Iraq has become a 'land of militias', says priest

An Iraqi boy passes destroyed buildings in western Mosul, Iraq August 5, 2017.REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

A priest in Iraq is lamenting the lack of security in the country, despite the Islamic State being pushed back in recent years. 

Father Nadheer Dako, leader of St Joseph's church in Baghdad, expressed his fears for the future of Iraq's Christians in comments to The Telegraph

His parish once had 5,000 families but after years of persecution and conflict, there are only 150 today. 

Speaking of those who left, he said: "They feel there is no peace, law or justice here in Baghdad, and that our country has become a land of militias." 

One parishioner, Nasib Hana Jabril, said that life was still hard in spite of the victory over the Islamic State and that Christians remain vulnerable.

"It is true that people are no longer getting kidnapped as much, and the Islamic State is gone," he told the newspaper.

"But the infrastructure of the country has been ruined, and people want a better future, not so much for themselves but for their children."

He added: "We have no tribe here, so if things go wrong, there is nobody here to help us." 

Iraq is ranked 15th on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians suffer the greatest persecution for their faith. 

The human rights organisation agrees that militias remain a problem and has warned that the threat from ISIS "has not fully diminished".

"Although ISIS has lost territory in Iraq, their ideology remains and has influenced society," Open Doors explains.

"Many of the militants have simply blended back into the general population. Another important driver of persecution are Shia militias who helped drive out ISIS and have gained authority and territory in the power vacuum left after ISIS was defeated."