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Christian family returns to Nineveh - © Aid to the Church in Need

Iraq: Return of Christians in Nineveh Plain Remains Uncertain

85 Percent of Those Who Fled Have Not Returned

85 percent of the population who fled from the Nineveh Plain when that territory was conquered by the jihadists of the “Islamic State” (Daesh) are not yet ready to return to their region of origin, despite the area no longer being in the hands of jihadists.

This is according to Dindar Zebari, coordinator for international aid of the Government of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, in comments January 28, 2019, reported by Fides News Agency on January 29. The representative of the regional government highlighted that some areas of the Plain, such as those of Telkaif and Hamdaniya, have become militarized areas in the hands of local militias. Among the reasons that make the return of Christians to Mosul and Nineveh Plain more and more uncertain is the fear that their families are not adequately protected from violence and retaliation, the lack of work, the disarticulation of infrastructure, the non-reassuring presence of autonomous armed formations, organized on a sectarian basis.

“In many cases,” added Zebari, “lands belonging to Christian or Yazidi owners have been confiscated to alter the demographic balance of the area.”

On Saturday, January 26, Mar Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul and Kirkuk called into question the responsibilities of the federal government of Baghdad regarding the process of reconstruction and repopulation of Mosul and of the scattered centers in the Nineveh Plain. The clergyman denounced the lack of reconstruction of the many churches destroyed or devastated during the period of jihadist domination, indicating the “corruption” of the political apparatus as a key factor to understand the inability to support the return of refugees.

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