Assyrians Signal Their Intention to Return to Their Homes in Mosul

Aid to the Church in Need – 5/11/16

The capture of the city in Northern Iraq by Daesh (IS) in June 2014, led to thousands fleeing for their lives, to the extent that just three months later, there were no Christians left in Mosul. The occupation of city by Daesh (IS) left damaged and destroyed homes, schools, Churches and lives across Northern Iraq.

However, this week, the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces were able to enter the outskirts of Mosul for the first time in two years. This advance into the city which has taken over twenty-four months, is a breakthrough in the war against Daesh.

Other areas and villages near and surrounding Mosul have been liberated from Daesh control, which has made many Christians and displaced families hopeful that they will soon be able to return, and re-build their lives in Mosul once more.

Aid to the Church in Need’s project partner, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil says that some of the 100,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kurdish northern Iraq had already begun preparations to return to the ancient towns and villages in the Nineveh Plain.

However, the archbishop underlines the difficulty of Christians returning to nearby Mosul which is still under the militant Islamists’ control — but that many of the faithful originally from the city still held out the hope of returning one day.

Speaking to ACN, Archbishop Warda said: “People have not yet returned [to Nineveh] because of the operation to secure Mosul and the [subsequent] reconstruction plans. There is definitely a will to return after it’s secure. People have started [their] preparations.” He added: “People have been holding prayers and celebrations. Some priests went to liberated villages — with soldiers. They [villagers and priests] sang hymns to the victorious Cross.”

Archbishop Warda states the long term want is to return home; “Christians of Iraq belong to this land, it is our job to build bridges, to live Christian values. It is my dream to also pray the Lord’s Prayer together with non-Christians.”

© 2016 Assyrian International News Agency.