By Michael Ireland
Special Reporter, ASSIST News Service
FALLS CHURCH, VA (ANS) -- The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has sent an initial sum of US $20,000 to assist with Christians displaced inside Iraq.
According to a media release, 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, the BWA reported.
The media release states that 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.
The ruins of Saint Elijah's Monastery
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.
The release says: "Problems faced by Iraqi Christians escalated in June this year with the Northern Iraq offensive, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), sometimes referred to as the Islamic State, 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."
The BWA reports that Christians and other minority religious groups have been specially targeted by ISIS.
The BWA news release says: "A decree was issued in July that all Christians in the area under ISIS 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, the BWA said.
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.
The BWA says that 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.
The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 231 conventions and unions in 121 countries and territories comprising 42 million members in 177,000 churches. Its priorities are nurturing the passion for mission and evangelism, promoting worship, fellowship and unity, responding to people in need, defending human rights and justice and advancing relevant theological reflection.
Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org or sent to
Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046