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Iraq is a country with ancient roots, and with a long history of turmoil and conflict. Presently it is trying to close the chapter of the 2003 US-led invasion, and in search of an identity that will allow it to once again stand as a nation. The gradual transfer of power back into Iraqi hands and subsequent multi-party elections, have achieved some stability. The situation, however, remains highly volatile.

Iraq is predominantly a Muslim country, with Islam practiced by 97% of the population. Two rival sects, Shi’ites and Sunnis, are involved in a constant and often violent power struggle. Christians have been present in Iraq for almost 2,000 years. In 2003 they numbered approximately 800,000 and although suffering discrimination, the community enjoyed relative freedom and security under the Ba’ath Party rule.

Today their numbers have dwindled to a mere 200,000. The rest have fled their homeland, as they stand unprotected before the threats, kidnappings, forced marriages, and killings by terrorists, religious extremists and organized crime. Clergy have been murdered and churches bombed. It is the largest Christian exodus in recent history. However, even in these times of acute crisis, priests, sisters and lay people have responded to the call of the Gospel with heroic acts of faith and love.