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Abandoned? Mideast Christians Overlooked in the War on Terror


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ANKAWA REFUGEE CAMP, Kurdistan – In the wake of terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the news has been dominated by ISIS, Syrian refugees, and even questions on whether to allow Muslims into the United States.

All of that talk ignores a key part of the equation.

They drive on dirt roads, exist in cramped caravans (campers), and are strangers in their own land. For many Christians, this has become their way of life.

On the outskirts of Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, a refugee camp houses more than several thousand people, most having left over a year ago when ISIS took over their villages and towns.

One woman told CBN News they can't go back home.

"It's impossible to go back to our towns because ISIS took even the tiles from the floors and there's nothing left for us," she said. "Even if we went back, we cannot rebuild our homes again. That would take a long time and a lot of money."

Many talk about the hard life inside the camp.

"It's really very bad because we don't have jobs and we have nothing to look forward to," one refugee told CBN News.

Medical care is limited. For example, one woman's son suffering from a heart condition receives no medical treatment.

One woman told CBN News Iraqi Christians have a long and troubled history.

"Almost every day of my life we've been living with economic crisis, political crisis, explosions, the war with Kuwait, the war with Iran, the war with ISIS," she said. "We have spent of our lives (on) problems, wars, and battles."

Those with enough money have left already. The ones who remain have nowhere to go.

"We feel we have no aim here," another refugee said. "We are still in our country, but still we are feeling we have no aim for our life because we are people of life. We are not the people to stay inside caravan for all our life. We are live people. We are not dead people."

Most long to escape to a Western country, but that's becoming a distant dream.

Critics charge that the percentage of Middle East Christians allowed to enter the United States has been disproportionately low compared with Muslims.

Retired Gen. Jay Garner said the White House has left these victims out of the discussion.

"I don't think there's been any discussion. I don't know of one utterance coming from our government about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East," Garner told CBN News.

"The only thing I've heard -- quasi-religious statement I've heard -- is I've heard the president say several times that ISIS is not Islam," he continued. "I don't know what he thinks the 'I' stands for, but there's been no dialogue about the terrible, terrible, terrible persecution of Christians in the Middle East, and I think that's tragic."

Many hope Christians around the world will pray for them.

"And I like from the people to pray for us in the name of God [the] Savior in their hearts to solve our problem," one said.

Unless those prayers are answered, thousands will remain in camps like the Ankawa refugee camp in Kurdistan.

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About The Author

Chris Mitchell

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Chris brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world. He first began reporting on the Middle East in the mid-1990s. Chris repeatedly traveled there to report on the religious and political issues facing Israel and the surrounding Arab states. One of his more significant reports focused on the emigration of persecuted Christians from the Middle East. In the past