Three years ago, more than 12,000 Christian families in the Nineveh Plains were driven from their homes with only the clothes on their backs as ISIS fighters invaded their lands. This was just weeks before ISIS had taken over Mosul, and approximately 15,000 Christians had fled to Kurdistan. Those Christians from the Nineveh Plains joined those in Kurdistan and for three years, some 120,000 IDPs lived in makeshift conditions. Because of the kindness of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, they were housed, fed, and clothed. ISIS was expelled from the Nineveh Plains, and more than 1,200 families have returned to their newly-repaired homes, but 13,000 Christian-owned homes still await repair or rebuilding.
08/02/2017 Iraq (National Review)– was the night of August 6, 2014. Fresh from their capture of Mosul, ISIS fighters swept through the Nineveh Plains and overnight drove more than 12,000 Christian families from their homes and ancestral lands. The families fled, quite literally, with only the clothes on their backs.
In Kurdistan, they joined the approximately 15,000 Christians who had fled Mosul just weeks earlier. For the next three years, some 120,000 internally displaced persons, or IDPs, were housed, fed, and clothed by the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil. Led by Archbishop Bashar Warda, whose herculean efforts were made possible by the steadfast support of an array of faith-based agencies, the local Church was even able to open six new schools so the children would not be deprived of their education.
Now, with the third anniversary of that dark night in view, there is a glimmer of hope. The Iraqi government has just recaptured Mosul, while earlier this year ISIS was expelled from the Nineveh Plains. Iraq’s long-suffering Christians, worn out by many months of living in make-shift conditions, now want to go home.
Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church has urged the Christian IDPs to “return quickly to reclaim their lands before others seize them” and to avoid internal disputes. “We are the indigenous people of this country and its ancient civilizations, he added. “Our history is traced back to the oldest Christian Church in the world.”