Assyrian exodus from Iraq

The Assyrian exodus from Iraq refers to the mass flight and expulsion of ethnic Assyrians from Iraq, a process which was initiated from the beginning of Iraq War in 2003 and continues to this day. Leaders of Iraq's Assyrian community estimate that over two-thirds of the Iraqi Assyrian population may have fled the country or been internally displaced since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 until 2011. Reports suggest that whole neighborhoods of Assyrians have cleared out in the cities of Baghdad and Basra, and that Sunni insurgent groups and militias have threatened Assyrians.[1] Following the campaign of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northern Iraq in August 2014, one quarter of the remaining Iraqi Assyrians fled the Jihadists, finding refuge in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.[2]

The Guardian published that the violence faced by Assyrians has led to a drop in their numbers in Iraq from at least 800,000 in 2003 to 400,000 in 2011.[3] The 2009 Catholic Almanac puts the numbers much higher—a drop from 1.5 million mostly Assyrians in Iraq in 2003 to just 500,000 in 2009.[4] Some estimate the updated number of Assyrians in Iraq at just 300,000. The UN High Commission for Refugees estimated in 2007 that one third of 1.8 million Iraqi refugees were Assyrians.[5] A similar percentage of the 1.6 million internally displaced within Iraq in 2007 were likely Assyrians, many of whom had fled Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul to the relatively stable Northern Iraq.[5]


A 1950 CIA report on Iraq showed that Assyrians comprised 4.9% of the Iraqi population during the 1940s.[6]

Total population Chaldean Catholic Syriac Catholic Syriac Orthodox Nestorian
165,000 98,000 25,000 12,000 30,000

The report goes on and states 20% of the Assyrians live in Baghdad and 60% in Mosul.

The Iraqi Minorities Council and the Minority Rights Group International estimated that Iraq's pre-war Assyrian population was 800,000.[7]

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