Alarming decrease in Christian population in Gozarto Region, Syria, amidst challenging circumstances

HASAKAH, Syria — The Christian community in Gozarto (Jazira) Region, North and East Syria, has experienced a concerning decline due to the compounding effects of challenging socioeconomic conditions and prolonged conflict, which have forced many to emigrate.

Christians have long been an integral part of the social fabric of Gozarto. However, the turmoil sparked by the Syrian war, exacerbated by the occupation of their villages by the Islamic State (ISIS), particularly in the villages and towns of the Khabur River Valley, like Tel Tamr, along with the current ongoing living crisis, has triggered significant emigration, resulting in a noticeable and disconcerting reduction in their numbers.

Prior to the crisis in Syria, Gozarto Region was home to over 170,000 Christians. However, the figure has plummeted to approximately 45,000.

Sanharib Barsom, Co-Chair of the Syriac Union Party (SUP), in an interview with Rudaw, highlighted that the current number of Christians in Syria is now less than one million. He emphasized that the establishment of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) has fostered an environment of religious freedom, serving as a bulwark that contributes to the community’s resilience and continuity.

Barsom noted the existence of organizations and political parties dedicated to safeguarding and upholding the Christian presence, albeit with coverage gaps across various Syrian regions.

Bashir al-Saadi, Deputy Official of the Assyrian Democratic Organization, shed light on the declining trend. He revealed that prior to 2011, the Christian population numbered around 170,000. Yet, due to diverse factors, notably extensive emigration, only 45,000 Christians remain in the region today.

The erosion of the Christian population in Gozarto underscores the ongoing challenges posed by conflict, displacement, and economic adversity, with efforts to preserve their cultural and historical heritage remaining crucial.