The shattered dreams of Iraqi Christians displaced by IS
By Carles Grau Sivera
Baghdad, Oct 14 (EFE).- Thousands of Christian families who fled towns in northern Iraq when the Islamic State terror organization seized control of swathes of the region in 2014 continue to live in camps with little prospect of returning home three years after the extremist group was defeated in the country.
At the Maryam al Azraa (Virgin Mary) camp in eastern Baghdad, Ehsan tries to remove the sewage leaking from her 30-square-meter shack, where she has lived with her husband and four children since the extremists first took over the north seven years ago.
This 42-year-old housewife left her hometown in the northern province of Nineveh and fled the IS with her family, leaving her “normal life” behind.
“At first I felt bad in the camp for having had to leave my birthplace, but I got used to living here,” Ehsan tells Efe.
She stresses that she has no choice but to stay in the shack due to the lack of job opportunities and the “high rents of Baghdad.”
“My dream is to live in peace and for my children to have a secure future. But those dreams are far-fetched,” she adds.
Mariam al-Azraa camp is home to some 120 Christian families, the majority of whom are from Nineveh, where the IS carried out bloody attacks and brutally persecuted this minority population.
The shelter, adjacent to the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Zayouna, was once the epicenter of numerous tragedies during the dictator regime of Saddam Hussein, according to camp manager Sarkhis Yohanna.
It used to be a military training facility, where anyone critical of the late Iraqi leader was tortured with “cutting their tongues or hanging women from their breasts,” Yohanna explains to Efe.