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Dark wooden partitions divide space in one of the church halls to provide a modicum of privacy to individuals and families, but there is never a quiet moment as people snore, babies cry and others shout or converse loudly.

Some, such as Nour Hassib, 28, go outdoors to play backgammon in the sunshine to get away from it all.

“I’m at an age when a person starts planning and building for the future,” says the former telecommunications employee from Mosul. “Everything I started to build has been left behind.

“At times, I don’t feel like I have a future. I want to be somewhere safe and stable.”

Mr. Bahou says fellow Christians in the Middle East would also regret seeing them leave their historic homeland for the West.

“We want Christians to stay here, but how can we convince them to stay? We need the Christians to remain, as they are the ‘salt’ of the Middle East. But what can we do?”

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Based in the Middle East, Dale Gavlak has reported for CNEWA from Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.



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