Broken tools and damaged vehicles line the narrow streets of the Iraqi Christian village of Baqofah. Electricity flickers on and off in the homes, most of which have been trashed. Mortars fired by ISIL fighters lie just outside the village walls.
Like many Christian villages in Iraq’s Nineveh region, Baqofah was seized by ISIL and ransacked in 2014, only to be retaken by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters soon afterwards.
While the area has remained relatively calm since then, the neighbouring town of Tel Eskof recently cameagain by ISIL suicide bombers and snipers, and ISIL-occupied Batnay, lies just a few kilometres away.
The violence has prompted many Iraqi Christians in the area to flee to camps for internally displaced people that are situated throughout Iraq’s Kurdish region. As anti-ISIL operations near Mosul continue, many are reluctant to return home.
Mansour Sharbil fled from the Christian town of Qaraqosh and is now staying at Erbil’s Ankawa 2 camp for internally displaced people. He told Al Jazeera: “The first thing we ask for is safety. We need our own forces to protect us after the liberation.”
The camp, which sits next to a camp called Ankawa 1, currently hosts around 5,500 displaced Iraqi Christians, who live in caravans and subsist on aid from NGOs and churches.
Nineveh’s Christians eagerly await the day when they can safely return home to their villages. As another camp resident, Ibrahim Shaba Lalo, who is also from Qaraqosh said, “It’s like living in prison here. We want to see our homes.”
- Pray for Iraqi Christians, many of whom have fled their homes and villages in order to escape ISIL. Pray for a return to peace in Iraq, and for safety for them to return to their homes.
- Pray for encouragement for Iraqi Christians, that they will hold fast to their faith and know the daily presence and protection of the Holy Spirit in and around them and their families.
- Pray for Iraq, for peace, for political stability, and for freedom of worship for all, including Christians, without fear.
Isaiah 41 vs 13: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”