Egypt's Christians fleeing ISIS violence left in limbo

Christians are fleeing Northern Sinai as a result of a killing spree perpetrated by Islamic State in Egypt.

By REUTERS
February 27, 2017 19:25
1 minute read.

Egypt's Christians, forced to flee homes in north Sinai due to ISIS, receive aid at a church

Egypt's Christians, forced to flee homes in north Sinai due to ISIS, receive aid at a church

Christians who fled Islamic State violence in Northern Sinai's Arish complained on Monday of ambiguity over their displacement.

Hundreds of Christian families and students have fled to Ismailia, north Sinai's neighboring province, after seven Christians were killed in Arish between January 30 and Thursday.

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"Until when will this temporary situation continue?" displaced Arish resident Qirollos Shawki said.

Arish residents said militants circulated death lists online and on the streets warning Christians to leave or die.

"We faced a kind of terror that no human has endured, not even in Syria or Iraq. We were in our homes expecting that at any moment someone will knock at our door and kill us," said one man who did not wish to be identified.

Islamic State, which is waging an insurgency in Northern Sinai, claimed responsibility for the killings, five of which were shootings. One man was beheaded and another set on fire.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered the government to take all necessary measures to help resettle the displaced.

But many families remain in Arish, according to church members, in fear of fleeing due to threats against drivers.

"They threatened drivers that if they transported a Christian from Arish to a place outside Arish that they will be killed - they would attack the vehicle," said Priest Abraham Fahmi.

One aid worker and Ismailia resident, Iman Saad, said people are in a desperate state of limbo.

"People are psychologically exhausted. They do not want food, drink or sleep. They want solutions for their problems. They left their homes and land where they were living comfortably," she said.

Last week Islamic State released a video threatening Egypt's Christians and vowing to escalate a campaign against them after it bombed a chapel adjoining Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral in December, killing 28 people. Orthodox Copts, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt's 90 million people, are the Middle East's largest Christian community and they have long complained of persecution.
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