The abduction of children in Iraq by IS militants has sent minorities fleeing for their lives.
“Infidels, pagans, nonbelievers”—these are terms that Islamic State (IS) militants use when referring to minority groups within their reach. The Islamic State’s offensive in 2014 victimized both Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq and made additional targets of minorities such as Yazidis and Christians. Some of the group’s most brutal tactics are its public penchant for the abduction and forced conversion of children from these minorities.
In 2014, IS entered the town of Qaraqosh, located in the Nineveh plains, an area of Iraq home to many Assyrian Christians. Qaraqosh was home to Iraq’s largest Christian community, mostly those who practice Catholicism or Orthodox Christianity. Iraq, which has one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, has seen its numbers dwindle in recent years, leaving Christianity in the country vulnerable to extinction. The abduction of minority children only intensified the fragility of both Christian and Yazidi populations.
In December 2016, Qaraqosh was liberated from IS but the scars remain. Iraq’s missing children are living shadows amidst the burned out churches, mosques and other destroyed buildings that IS left in its wake.
Christina, who comes from a Qaraqosh Catholic family, was only 4 years old at the time of her abduction. The tragedy has left her family living in a refugee camp and too afraid to return home. Christina is thought to still be alive. Her fate, like so many other minority children abducted by IS militants, is one of forced conversion or even conscription.
A 2016 United Nations report on children and armed conflict said the number of children abducted by the Islamic State is greatly under-documented due to a lack of access to conflict areas.
*[Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Iraq was “home to mostly Sunni Muslims,” while it is predominantly Shia. Updated: November 7, 2017.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Photo Credit: Bethanie Mitchell
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money. Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.