According to a new report, more than half the Christians living in Syria and Iraq have been killed or fled the country since 2011, mostly because of targeted persecution from the Islamic State terror group.

Exactly three years ago, the Islamic State took control of the Iraqi City of Mosul, beginning a particularly harsh period of persecution of the beleaguered Christian community living in the area.

The report, titled “Understanding Recent Movements of Christians from Syria and Iraq,” said that since 2011 Christians living in much of the Middle East had experienced an “overall loss of hope for a safe and secure future,” which has driven the majority to flee their homeland in search of safety for themselves and their families.

The dossier, produced by three groups—Open Doors, Served, and Middle East Concerns—also points out that for the many Christians who have resettled elsewhere, there are “few incentives” to return to their countries of origin. Several respondents stated that “the Middle East is no longer a home for Christians.”

Although exact figures are unavailable, it is estimated that currently there are only 200,000-250,000 Christians remaining in Iraq, a decline of more than 100,000 in the last three years and a massive drop from the 1.4-2 million Christians in the 1990s. Many of the Christians remaining in Iraq are displaced internally.

In Syria, estimates suggest that prior to 2011, approximately 8-10 percent of the Syrian population was Christian, meaning some 1.7-2.2 million people. Currently, estimates of the Christian population in Syria range from 1.4 million all the way down to 800,000, meaning that somewhere between 300,000 and 1.4 million have left the country.

Reports from the province of Al-Hasakeh, home to a historic Christian population, state that over half the population has left (around 75,000 people), although some of these may have relocated within Syria itself. Many choose internal displacement over emigration due to the financial cost of leaving the country, which can be prohibitive.

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SOURCE: Breitbart, Thomas D. Williams

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