Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

BWA sends aid to displaced Iraqi Christians

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BWA sends aid to displaced Iraqi ChristiansThe Baptist World Alliance (BWA) sent an initial sum of US$20,000 to assist with Christians displaced inside Iraq.

Funds given by the BWA will be used to help provide food and other urgent relief supplies to approximately 500 Iraqi Christian families who fled Mosul and Karakosh to Irbil city in Kurdistan state.

Christians fled in haste without their possessions, including clothing. Money, jewelry and other valuables were stolen or confiscated.

A sum of US$90 is needed for mattresses, blankets and a two-week food supply for an average family of six persons.  Baptists and other Christian groups providing assistance expect the need to last through several months.

Mosul, Iraq’s second largest metropolitan area after Baghdad is an ancient city in Northern Iraq that has had a significant Christian presence going back almost 2,000 years. Karakosh is in close proximity to Mosul.

Problems faced by Iraqi Christians escalated in June this year with the Northern Iraq offensive, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sometimes referred to as the Islamic State (IS), and aligned forces, began a major offensive in Northern Iraq against the Iraqi government. The same protagonists attacked Kurdish-held territory in Northern Iraq in August.

Christians and other minority religious groups have been specially targeted by IS.  A decree was issued in July that all Christians in the area under IS control, including Mosul and Karakosh, must pay a special tax of approximately US$470 per family, convert to Islam, or leave. It was later announced that all Christians needed to leave or be killed.

Many Christians have fled to Kurdistan.

Christians have been leaving Iraq in droves after the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq. Violence against Christians by radical Islamist groups rose dramatically, including abductions, torture, bombings and killings. Christians were pressured to convert to Islam under threat of death or expulsion, and women were ordered to wear Islamic dress.

By 2007, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis were displaced to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, with a large majority being Christian. Another two million were displaced internally.

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© August 29, 2014

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 253 conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 176,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.