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ICC Note: An Assyrian family has returned to their home in Telsqof, Iraq after over two years of displacement by ISIS. While Christians still wonder if a future in Iraq is possible, this family has taken the step to return home and restart their life. Many Christian leaders in Iraq including Chaldean Patriarch Mar Sako have been encouraging this so as to preserve a Christian presence in the country.

02/11/2017 Iraq (AINA): The first Iraqi Catholic family returned to Iraq since the rise of ISIS in 2014. Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael Louis Sako has been encouraging Iraqi Chaldeans to stay in Iraq or to return in order to keep Christianity alive in Iraq.

Sako remarked, “A Christian community that was born in these lands cannot organize exodus trips that will mark its extinction.” The Chaldean family returned on January 30 to Telskuf, which is in the Nineveh Plain of Iraq.

Sako explained, “They returned home after spending two and a half years as displaced people in a centre in Dohuk. The local priest was there to welcome them — Fr. Salar Bodagh, who heads the reconstruction committee. This is a real sign of hope for many more.”

Sako revealed that the name of the man who came back is Naoiq Quliaqus Atto, along with his wife, brother and three children.

In 2015, concerning defeating ISIS, Sako said, “Americans are saying it will take five years, 10 years, 30 years, and this language is encouraging ISIS, (making them think) you can stay. It’s discouraging Christians or other refugees, thinking they can’t go back home now.”

Since the rise of ISIS in 2014, there has been a mass exodus of Christians from Iraq and the greater Middle East in response to ISIS savagery and terror.

In response Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III commented:

The almost communal wave of youth emigration, especially in Syria but also in Lebanon and Iraq breaks my heart, wounding me deeply and dealing me a deadly blow. Given this tsunami of emigration what future is left for the Church? What will become of our homeland? What will become of our parishes and institutions?

Pleading with Christians, he pleaded with Christians, “Despite all your suffering, stay! Be patient! Don’t emigrate! Stay for the Church, your homeland, for Syria and its future! Stay! Do stay!”

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