It is incumbent on the world leaders to immediately undertake tangible steps that ensure the safety and security of Christians of the Levant in the first place, as well as to adopt measures by launching projects that fight unemployment.
The hot issue that keeps lingering in the hearts and minds of peace-loving people who seek to maintain Middle East diversity and to look for promoting common living, is the mounting trend of Christian emigration from the Levant.
It is an issue that has been going on for decades, yet in the period ranging between 2010 and 2021 it culminated to a point that it is neither comprehensive nor acceptable. It is manifested in brain-drain and in vacating the Middle East countries of brilliant and creative faculties that can turn soil into gold.
This is the time to set alarm bells ringing for if the process continues unabated, it will drift the Middle East countries into an era of darkness with monotonous days that are bereft of a lively and creative future.
In early 2020, the world was burdened with corona pandemic which adversely impacted all walks of life thus causing rampant unemployment, poverty, hunger, crimes, and societies deeply shaken by instability.
In such depressing circumstances, the Middle East Christians suffered from a real via crucis of poverty, exclusion, and marginalization which made them contemplate leaving their homelands where the economic and political situation is not promising. Furthermore, it is dolorous to note that the attrition of Christians from the Middle East, particularly from Syria and Iraq, caused by wars and persecution, is proceeding at a high rate and that if it continues as such, the Levant will be bereft of its Christian component, thus leaving an irreversible damage.
Before 2011, Christian Syrians comprised about 10 per cent though 40-50 per cent of them have since left. Meanwhile, there were approximately 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before 2003, but estimates now range from 200,000 to 500,000.
It is also saddening to learn from reports that have leaked which indicate that hundreds of thousands of Christians are trying to leave Lebanon in the wake of August 4, 2020 explosion. This raises fears for the future of Christianity there.
The Levant is the birthplace of Christianity where Christian holy sites still dot its landscape. Since ancient times, early Christians have provided the foundation of the area’s social fabric. They played a key role in entrenching a civilization based on respect, love and support for all peoples regardless of their affiliations.
The Middle East Christians have been serving as a key factor of stability, enlightenment in the societies where they live, and played major roles in the progress of their societies in various fields. The Christian missionaries launched the first ever educational institutions in the region including schools and universities. These educational institutions refined their respective societies and entrenched a culture of modern civilization. They also built hospitals and health centers that helped heal the ill thus contributing to the advancement of societies.
As a result, the attrition of Christian communities in the region does not have a foreseeable end. It is incumbent on the world leaders to immediately undertake tangible steps that ensure the safety and security of Christians of the Levant in the first place, as well as to adopt measures that rectify the current situation by launching projects that fight unemployment and help create a better future. It is also important to embark on lubricating the wheels of economy and on encouraging investment so as to guarantee a stable and prosperous future which consequently helps preserve the Christians’ presence in the land of their ancestors.
By Munir Bayouk