Remembering the Expulsion of Christians from Iraq

To remember the 10 years of expulsion of Christians from Iraq, and to remind everyone of our commitment to Pray, Protect, and Support forcibly displaced Christians.

When ISIS captured Mosul in 2013, they began targeting Christians. ISIS marked Christian homes and businesses with the Arabic letter “N,” which stands for Nazarene or Christian. By July 2014, ISIS ordered Christians to convert to Islam, pay a large tax called “JIZYA,” and live as second-class citizens or be killed. Most Christians fled to save their lives.

Image of the Dayro d-Mor Mattai (The Monastery of St. Matthew) founded in 363 AD. Oriental Christianity existed in this region since the first century.

Before the U.S. – led invasion in 2003, Iraq’s Christian population was about 1.5 million.

By 2014, around 600,000 Christians lived in Iraq, mostly in Mosul.

Today, fewer than 250,000 Christians remain in Iraq.

In Iraq’s Kurdistan region, 47,000 Christians are still displaced and refuse to return to their towns and villages.

Over the past 20 years, Iraq’s Christian community has faced violence, discrimination, and persecution from extremist groups like ISIS. Despite these hardships, many Iraqi Christians still love their country. Many have left Iraq reluctantly, and those who stay often struggle with the decision to remain or leave. 

Frustration over the world’s inaction has led to a campaign to raise awareness about the fate of Mosul’s Christians. Many people, especially Christians, embraced the “N” symbol as a proud solidarity symbol with Iraqi Christians by changing their profile pictures on social media to show support. 

Image of a refugee camp in Erbal, Iraq.
Image of Iraqi children in a Church compound in Amman, Jordan.

Ten years later, we are remembering the families and friends who were forced to leave their homes in Mosul. Very few Christian families have returned home due to the lasting trauma. Iraqi Christians in Australia have family and friends displaced in Jordan, Iraq (Kurdistan Province), Lebanon, and Turkey. More than 90% of the Christians who fled Mosul do not consider returning due to psychological pain. 

The Australian government recognised the vulnerability of Christians in the Middle East at that time. In 2016-17, it granted humanitarian visas to 7,394 Iraqis, of whom 74% were Christians, and over 6,000 Syrians, of whom 77% were Christians.

Our Commitment
Some of us in the Philoi team have facilitated the resettlement of over 2,200 Christians from Syria and Iraq in Australia. We have seen their struggles and their resilience. Many have become contributing citizens of Australia. They have lost family members, been separated from loved ones, and had their ancestral homeland and properties taken from them. We will continue to remember and support and displaced Christian brothers and sisters from Iraq.

Philoi migration agent greeting Iraqi arrivals at the airport in 2015.


$75 can provide a refugee family with emergency food rations, covering their basic needs.

$50 can fund a month’s worth of school fees or supply a school pack for a refugee child.

$150 can assist a refugee family with rent or cover medical expenses.

$9,000 can support a refugee family’s resettlement application or cover flights to a safer location in their home country.

Reach out to us for more information or any questions you may have. To give, click here.