As many as 80% of Syria’s Christians have left their country since the start of the civil war in 2011, while 50% of Iraq’s Christians have been uprooted since 2006, according to a report produced by Christian charities Open Doors International, Served and Middle East Concern last year, which said the arrival of IS was only the “tipping point” of a trend already gathering pace as Christians experienced an “overall loss of hope for a safe and secure future”.
Lebanon received the most refugees and in December 2016 the advocacy group ADF International heard some of their stories, which they have shared with World Watch Monitor. In the snippets below, the interviewees are referred to by their initials alone, to preserve their safety.
“We lived in Mosul [northern Iraq] until 2005 [when] bullets were shot into our home. Between June and July, 2005, terrorists tried to kidnap our son three times, but he was able to escape,” said S. H., a Christian father of five, adding that after this he moved with his family, including three disabled children, to Qaraqosh, 30km southeast of Mosul.