Christians in Iraq request prayer for Christian and Kurdish families impacted by Turkish bombardments of and incursions into Northern Iraq.
About 80 families from the Zakho district fled the area bordering Turkey to the center of the district. Ten churches are reported to have closed because of the bombardments.
On 14 June, Turkey started a military operation inside North Iraq aimed at fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who are considered a terrorist organization by many countries. Later in the month, the military campaign was extended to the border areas in the province of Dohuk, an area in Northern Iraq with a high concentration of Christians.
The Zakho district has about 20 Christian villages, housing approximately 12,000 people. In the first days of July two of these villages were completely evacuated because of the bombardment and fighting. People have fled to the centre of the district and other safe areas. Although there are no reported injuries among Christians, they, like their Kurdish neighbours, suffer great economic losses, having left behind their fruit farms.
This is not the first time Iraqi Christians have had to flee military attacks. In the summer of 2014 Christians fled attacks by the so-called Islamic State (IS). Only about 40% of those internally displaced then have returned to their villages.
Christians complain about a lack of security due to Iranian-backed militias, who seek to change the demographic composition of the area under their control – including by replacing Christians with Shia Muslims. This encourages the continued emigration of Christians from Iraq.
Iraqi Christians request prayer:
- that Christians in Northern Iraq will know the Lord’s wisdom, peace and guidance in the face of these threats
- for protection of Christians and Kurds living in these areas and for an end to the Turkish military campaign in Northern Iraq
- for an end to the causes of Christian emigration and for the continued presence of Christians in Iraq