CNN news 2017-01-05

AZUZ: In the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, about two-thirds of the population is Shia Muslim and one-third is Sunni Muslim. The country's second largest religion is Christianity, but at an estimated 8/10 of one percent of the population. Though Christianity came to Iraq in the first century AD, the number of Christians there has dropped from millions in the 20th century, to a few hundred thousand today.

The U.S. has blamed the ISIS terrorist group known locally as Daesh for committing genocide, mass murder of Christians and other minority groups.

But many Christians left Iraq before ISIS came.

FATHER EMANUEL YOUKHANA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CHRISTIAN AID PROGRAM NORTHERN IRAQ: Christianity cannot die here. We are people of hope, but — Of course, for a family who had everything and in one overnight lost everything, it's very difficult to keep hope, keep faith.

And this is our challenge.

SUBTITLE: Christianity after ISIS?

YOUKHANA: We can estimate Iraqi Christians before 2003 around 1 million.

Targeting Christians — it didn't start with Daesh. Daesh is the most violent and barbaric. But it started even since 2003, we are being pushed out.

The textile of Iraqi community was broken based on sectarian and cultural identity, so we need to bring back the people together.

To defeat Daesh militarily is not enough for our people to return back and to feel home and to build a future. The big question is, what are the guarantees that it will not happen again?

We are concerned that Western countries, led by the States, that — OK, Daesh is defeated, on the ground, mission is done. No. Mission will start indeed after that. And by this mission I mean to give hope and to strengthen hope and give the guarantee for the people that they have a future.

We don't want church, our church to be museums. But living church. Not only for the faithful, the Christian faithful. But for all the community.

And this is our mission, to keep our hope alive.