More than 100 Middle Eastern Christians in constant danger of violence or even death have already been flown in 2019 to Australia, with help from Barnabas Fund, where they have been given the government’s permission to settle.
By the end of June, Barnabas Fund’s Operation Safe Havens had enabled 25 Christian families to escape anti-Christian persecution after the Australian government agreed to grant them visas.
The twenty-sixth family was that of Iraqi Christian housewife “Dwura” and her story is a prime example of the relentless persecution that led the Australian government to step in and help these people start afresh in an environment of peace and stability.
The date 31 May 2006 is seared on Dwura’s memory. On this day her brother-in-law was gunned down by terrorists in an industrial area of Mosul, the ancient Biblical city of Nineveh. The terrorists asked him for his identity card and, when they saw he was a Christian, shot him in the head and chest.
Living in fear
“From this date onwards we lived in fear,” she said.
Nevertheless the family hung on in their town in the Plains of Nineveh, a region where Christians have lived for nearly two millennia. But things only got worse for Christians when Islamic State (IS) terrorists began to establish themselves and move out across Iraq.
In August 2014, Dwura’s town fell to IS fighters and the family fled for their lives, with tens of thousands of other Christians from the Plains of Nineveh.
Two years later the Iraqi army freed Dwura’s town from IS control, but the family home had been destroyed. So had the homes of Dwura’s brothers and sisters.
“After the liberation our areas were exposed to a tough occupation by the militias,” says Dwura. “Christians lost hope because they couldn’t take any steps without approval from the militias.”
One of Dwura’s daughters became seriously affected mentally, due to the anti-Christian pressure – all she had ever known throughout her young life.
Eventually Dwura and her husband felt they had no option but to take their three children and leave their homeland of Iraq to start a new life somewhere they could live freely as Christians. With visas from the Australian government and financial help from Barnabas Fund’s Operation Safe Havens, they were flown to Australia.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org