ON A crisp Sunday morning, the start of the Muslim week, a burgeoning congregation of Christians files into a church in Ankawa, a suburb of the Iraqi Kurds’ capital, Erbil, to which several thousand Christians have fled in the past decade from the violence of Baghdad. Though physically fairly safe in their new abode, it is hardly a happy haven. Many are struggling to survive. Jobs are scarce, so some make the perilous journey back to the Iraqi capital every week to work.

The lot of Iraq’s Christian population is particularly glum. Though a steady trickle had been leaving for decades, the exodus became a flood after the American invasion in 2003, when radical Islamists unleashed a sectarian onslaught against Shia Muslims, Christians and others. The ferocity of attacks such as the one against the church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in 2010, which left at least 58 Christians dead, speeded the departure of many more. In the past decade as many as two-thirds of Iraq’s 1.5m Christians are thought to have emigrated.