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What next for Sinai's displaced Copts?

Hundreds of Copts have fled Islamic State threats and killings in el-Arish while awaiting the return of stability to their city.
A Christian woman who left Al-Arish city, North Sinaiís Governorate capital, with her families after the escalation of a campaign targeting Christians by Islamic State militants, takes a rest after arriving at the Saint Church in Ismailia, northeast of Cairo, Egypt February 27, 2017. Picture taken February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh - RTS11695
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Hundreds of Christian families escaped the city of el-Arish Feb. 24 after the Islamic State (IS) and its branch in Egypt, Wilayat Sinai, increased attacks on Copts there. It is believed to be the largest wave of collective displacement in Egypt since the June 1967 war. Coptic families have discretely been experiencing displacement since the Egyptian government declared a war on terrorism in July 2013, but Cairo and the media have taken an interest in this latest wave because it involves collective migration. No official census figures are available on the Coptic population in the Sinai.

The murder of seven Copts in el-Arish in sporadic incidents between Jan. 30 and Feb. 23 triggered this most recent displacement. Rev. Boulos Halim, spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, told Al-Monitor that an estimated 310 Coptic families are believed to have been uprooted through mid-March. The ultimate fate of the displaced is for the moment unknown, and their return to el-Arish is uncertain.

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