The U.S.-led war that brought about the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 had a powerful impact on Iraq. The country was devastated politically and economically. While Iraq managed to return to some sense of order after several years of strife, it came at a high cost: Iraqi Christians fled the country by the hundreds of thousands. A population of Christians that once numbered more than a million in the 1990’s dwindled to barely 300,000 in 2006.
The years since have taken another toll on the country, most notably with the rise of ISIS in neighboring Syria. When Islamic militants stormed through the Nineveh Plain in August of 2014, the invasion sent tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing to Iraqi Kurdistan. Still others spilled over into Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, seeking any safe haven.
Most today remain in exile, living in camps or settlements, waiting for the tide of history to turn so they can return to their homes — or what remains of them. Many view the situation as too unstable to risk returning home, as Iraqi forces continue to battle terrorist groups to recapture Christian strongholds.
A few Christians have ventured back to those areas that have been liberated, but it will take years before life returns to anything resembling normal. It remains to be seen just how many Christians will resettle in Iraq, or what the future will hold for them.