BAGHDAD, IRAQ (Worthy News)– Gangs in Baghdad are seizing homes left vacant by Christian families who have been forced to flee from sectarian violence, according to Barnabas Aid.
"Most of them are afraid of submitting complaints to the government because they do not believe they can protect themselves if they file a lawsuit," said William Warda, head of the Baghdad-based Hammurabi Human Rights Organization.
Iraq's Christians are most at risk of having their homes seized as they lack the tribal affiliations that protect their Arab Muslim neighbors.
After the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, there was a surge in anti-Christian threats, kidnappings and murders, prompting thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee. But many who left didn't sell their properties in the hope of one day returning, but eventually they were forced to sell their homes at rates well below market value because Muslim gangs simply took over their properties.
In its 2013 human rights report, the U.S. State Department said that internal corruption prevented the Iraqi government from effectively adjudicating property restitution claims that often disproportionately affected Christian communities.
Many Christians who left their homes fled to the autonomous region of Kurdistan where most now live peacefully in their own neighborhoods.