Ambassador Brownback is correct. Almost all of the Orthodox Christians in Iraq were displaced during the period of war and strife that began early in the 21st century. Even at this point, most of them are still refugees and have been unable to return home. Many don’t think it is safe to return even though ISIS has largely been driven out of the lands it once controlled. Shia “Popular Mobilization Units” have taken up where ISIS left off and are making life difficult for the Christians who survived ISIS’ reign of terror. An internationally protected safe zone is urgently needed.
“Iraqi Christians face uncertain future, U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom says,” by Matt Hadro, CNA, June 27, 2019:
Washington D.C., Jun 27, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The security of Christians in Northern Iraq remains “tenuous” and will require close attention in the future, the State Department’s religious freedom ambassador told members of Congress on Thursday.
While the situation is “far better in Northern Iraq right now” for Yazidis and Christians, who in 2016 were recognized by the State Department as genocide victims of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, there is still a lack of “true security in the area,” Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said.
Ambassador Brownback testified on June 27 at the hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), on “Violations of the International Right to Freedom of Religion” of Christians.
The hearing was held two months after bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday killed more than 250 people, targeting churches and hotels.
A recent Pew Center study showed that Christians are persecuted in more countries around the world than any other religious group, in 144 countries.
“We stand for human dignity and respect for life of whomever is oppressed, and this Commission has and will continue to highlight the suffering of religious minorities around the globe, be they Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, Ba’hai in Iran, Buddhists in occupied Tibet, Yazidis in Iraq or the Muslim Rohingya people in Burma,” Rep. Smith stated.
“Christians, however, remain the most persecuted religious group the world over, and thus deserve the special attention that today’s hearing will give them,” Smith said….