“I was completely shocked when I saw what was left of my home and my city. It took a lot of work but now we are finally home.” With tears in his eyes the Musa, 60 years a Christian, told Aid to the Church in Need, his first day he came back in Qaraqosh. Forced to flee with his family on the night between 6 and 7 August 2014, the man is among the 25,650 Christians who have returned to a town that is a symbol of Christianity in Iraq; over 46 percent of those who lived there before the arrival the Islamic State were Christian.
In an August 6, 2018, release, ACN said that four years to the day since the invasion by Isis of the Plain of Nineveh, which forced more than 125,000 Christians to flee, the reconstruction plan ACN has encouraged the return of some 8,815 Christian families in the Plains.
“It’s been less than a year now since we have engaged in this ambitious Marshall Plan,” explained the director of ACN-Italian Alessandro Monteduro. “The generosity of our benefactors was amazing and allowed us to reconstruct or restore 4,765 of 13,555 homes destroyed or damaged by Isis, or 35.2 percent of the buildings. The surprising result achieved so far motivates us, even more, to go on. There are so many Christian families who want to return to Nineveh and we will help them so that Christianity can remain in Iraq.”
“We still have much work to do,” said Don Georges Johola, one of the Committee members for the Nineveh Reconstruction, set up by the Pontifical Foundation along with the Chaldean Church, the Syrian Catholic, and Syrian Orthodox to coordinate the reconstruction. “The next phase is very challenging because it involves the reconstruction of houses completely burnt or destroyed.”
The sites supported by ACN, in fact, continue the work in full swing. Amjeed Tareq Hano is a young man of 28 who helps the 70 engineers working in one team Qaraqosh. On his desk tall stack of requests.
“In order to receive support owners must personally contribute to the reconstruction or restoration,” said the young Christian. “The only way we can reduce costs and help other families.”
Amjeed stressed that the Iraqi government has not supported the work of reconstruction.
“We defeat ISIS armed with bricks and plaster and without the help of ACN we would never have been able to move forward.” From 2014 to June 2018, Aid to the Church in Need has donated about 39.7 million euro to support Iraqi Christians projects.
After ISIS took the Nineveh Plain, Amjeed lived with his family in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. He never regretted the decision not to leave their country.
“We have to boil water because it contains too much chlorine, the electricity is produced by generators and the roads are full of potholes. Iraq is anything but safe, but this is our home and here is our future. And our country badly needs the presence of Christians.”