THE LEVANT – The last Christian in Mosul, Iraq fled the city on July 19 at noon, according to reports.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians evacuated weeks ago because of increasing violence at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and thousands more left after the group issued the religious minority a deadly ultimatum.
ISIS demanded that the Christians either convert to Islam, pay a tax, or leave the area. Failure to comply would result in their deaths. Now, after over 2,000 years, there are no Christians in the Nineveh Province capital.
The Muslims that remain in Mosul are living under Sharia law, and many are also trying to escape, Christian Headlines reported Monday.
Many Iraqi refugees have fled to Kurdistan – an autonomous region in northern Iraq. Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani released a statement last weekend stating that the Iraqi government has done little to help their displaced citizens.
“The number of refugees is on the increase while the Iraqi government has so far failed to take responsibility and help these refugees who have sought asylum in Kurdistan,” he said, according to Kurdish media network Rudaw.
Although Barzani stated that Kurdistan will do all it can to support the refugees, he also said that their resources are limited, and asked for international help.
“In these harsh economic conditions in the Kurdistan Region, due to Baghdad’s deliberate and vengeful actions,” he said. “We urge the international community and humanitarian agencies to step up efforts to help refugees.”
Barzanie continued, “We also encourage them to support the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) in order to increase its relief efforts and be able to properly assist these families in times of crises.”
Meanwhile, ISIS has continued its reign of terror across Iraq and Syria, targeting a monastery in Qaraqosh on Monday. The extremists forced their way into the Saint Behnam monastery and told the monks, “You have no place here anymore; you have to leave immediately,” according to AFP. The monks reportedly had to leave the monastery with just the clothes on their backs.
The United Nations released a statement on Sunday saying the ISIS’ acts may constitute crimes against humanity.
“Any systematic attack on the civilian population or segments of the civilian population, because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
The U.N. also “condemns in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minority populations in Iraq by Islamic State [of Iraq and Syria] and associated armed groups.”
If the U.N. declares ISIS’ actions as crimes against humanity, they can refer their leaders to the International Criminal Court for prosecution, or prosecute the terrorists themselves.