Up to 80 percent of Christians have left Syria and Iraq since the war erupted in Syria in 2011, according to a new report compiled by Christian charity groups Open Doors, Served, and Middle East Concern.
Based on the new report, Christians have been leaving Iraq and Syria since 2011 and the arrival of the Islamic State only served to give that trend a major push. Although the report acknowledged it is difficult to come up with exact figures, it estimates that the number of Christians in Iraq has dropped from over 300,000 in 2014 to between 200,000 and 250,000 at present, Premier details.
In addition, the report estimates that the Christian population in Syria has dropped to half from the two million that it used to be in 2011. It warns that Iraqi and Syrian Christians are now losing hope for a safe future for them and that they no longer have enough reason to return.
Moreover, the report points to higher cost of living, lack of working and education opportunities, destruction of Christian towns, and the loss of community as the other factors that have contributed to the exodus of Christians. Thousands of believers made their way into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Sweden, Germany, and other European countries.
In conclusion, the three organizations that compiled the report are calling for justice for the victims of religious and ethnic persecution. The report also noted that many of the Christians who have chosen to stay in their homeland want to participate in the efforts to rebuilt the destroyed cities in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, the Knights of Columbus has launched a nationwide ad campaign to raise awareness over the situation of the persecuted Middle East Christians. The ad campaign also aims to help raise funds for the believers, the National Catholic Reporter explained.
"We must act and act quickly if Christianity is to survive in the Middle East," Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson said in a statement. "Three years after ISIS rolled through their country, these minority communities of Christians could face extinction without our help, and if they disappear, the chance for a pluralism and tolerance of minorities will be increasingly lost in that country."
Aside from that, the Knights of Columbus are calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act. The legislation would allow the U.S. to fund humanitarian groups in Iraq that help provide the basic needs of the displaced Christians in the Middle East.