To receive daily emails from Breaking Christian News to your inbox CLICK HERE


SHARE THIS ARTICLE Printer friendly version of this page

"In a Race Against Time": The West Must "Act Now" to Help Iraqi Christians Endure in the Middle East

Joop Koopman : Aug 17, 2017  JNS.org

"The West must act now. For if a significant number of Christians do not return to the Nineveh Plains very soon, and the power vacuum persists into 2018, the hopes for an enduring renaissance of Christianity in Iraq may be dashed forever." -George Marlin

(Iraq)—[JNS.org] Before Islamic State swept across the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014, driving more than 100,000 Christians into exile in Kurdistan, some 5,000 Syriac-Catholic families made their homes on ancient ancestral land in the town of Qaraqosh. (Photo: A damaged Christian home in Qaraqosh, Iraq/Credit: Aid to the Church in Need/JNS.org) 

More than half of those families have school-age children, and international agencies have repaired a significant amount of the damage done to schools during the Islamic State occupation. Schools are ready to welcome students to the new academic year. But the great challenge is that many of the families' homes still await repair or rebuilding. To date, only 600 out of the 5,000 families ousted from Qaraqosh have been able to move back into their homes there.

Syriac-Catholic Father Georges Jahola, who represents his church on the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee and oversees reconstruction work in Qaraqosh, put it bluntly: "If their homes are not ready for families to move back in by September and the start of the school year, many of the Christians might well decide to go elsewhere—this time leaving Iraq for good."

The enormous challenge at hand prompted the Catholic charity group Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to establish a committee comprised of six members, each representing the three main churches whose faithful have roots in the Nineveh Plains: the Syriac-Catholic Church, the Syriac-Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Church, who are joining forces in a historic first. Funds raised by the committee will be distributed according to the needs of each of the particular communities.

ACN has funded the repair of close to 160 homes to date. Overall numbers remain dangerously low. For example, in the town of Bartella, just 24 Syriac-Orthodox families have returned to their former homes, while more than 600 families have not been able or willing to move back to that community. Bartella was home to 3,400 families before the community was captured by Islamic State, which proceeded to completely destroy 90 of the homes, while another 360 houses suffered severe fire damage and 1,300 residences need various significant repairs.

Not that there isn't optimism and passion on the part of many Christians. Nohe Ishaq Sliman, who just returned to his home in Bartella, said, "This is our city, our life, our history. In Kurdistan, we were confronted with very tough economic conditions; food and rent there are very expensive and I can no longer afford that cost while I have a home that I own here. I urge all families from Bartella to come home again." He continued, "I have drunk the water from the Tigris and worked here as a farmer. I built this house myself. How can I abandon it?"

Yet close to 13,000 homes across the Nineveh Plains still need to be repaired or rebuilt, not to mention the major work needed throughout the region to restore the water and electricity supply. The Nineveh Reconstruction Committee has carefully assessed damages across the board and estimates that the repair and rebuilding of private homes alone requires some $250 million in funding. 

In addition, there are close to 350 churches and church properties—schools, convents, cemeteries—that require varying degrees of repair, rebuilding and refurbishing. In addition, there are 140 public properties—primarily schools and several hospitals—that require significant investment to become fully functional again. Meanwhile, some 90,000 Christians are still living in makeshift conditions, such as IDPs (internally displaced persons) in Kurdistan, a state of limbo that has lasted three years. ACN alone has spent more than $35 million in humanitarian aid for the IDPs there since the summer of 2014, and that flow of aid must somehow continue until the resettlement of the Nineveh Plains is complete. (Photo: Property damage in Bartella, Iraq/Credit: Aid to the Church in Need/via JNS.org)

Beyond the work of reconstruction in the Nineveh Plains, there are significant security concerns. Islamic State may be largely ousted from Iraq, but Sunni-Shi'a tension remains and may burst into renewed violence, putting Christians and other minorities in harm's way once again. There is also the risk that Baghdad and Kurdistan may clash in the Nineveh Plains if the Kurdish regional government declares its dependence and secedes from Iraq.

With the end of summer in sight, schools in the Nineveh Plains beckon families and their children. Iraqi Christians are hoping for a new life marked by peace and stability, but Western powers must make a major contribution to make their aspiration a reality. 

"Christians and other religious minorities count on the Western governments—and the U.S. in particular," ACN-U.S.A Chairman George Marlin wrote Aug. 2 in National Review, "not only to help fund the reconstruction of the Nineveh Plains, but also to use their powers and influence to get both Baghdad and Kurdistan to guarantee the security of all minorities and to ensure their equality of citizenship, including their property rights and freedom of worship."

Failing that, a dark history will repeat itself. "The West must act now," wrote Marlin. "For if a significant number of Christians donot return to the Nineveh Plains very soon, and the power vacuum persists into 2018, the hopes for an enduring renaissance of Christianity in Iraq may be dashed forever." 

[Reprinted with permission of JNS.org]







SHARE THIS ARTICLE Printer friendly version of this page

To receive daily emails from Breaking Christian News to your inbox CLICK HERE

Other Recent Articles from Breaking Christian News

PRAY: Adorable 3-Month Baby Needs Heart Transplant and Her Parents Are Asking For Invocations, Donations

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire Thursday: 'It Has Been My Great Honor'

Another J6 Trump 'Bombshell' Outed as a Hoax!

Pew Survey Reveals Most in US Favor Laws Requiring Trans Athletes to Compete on Teams of Their Biological Sex

While the CDC Pretends Homosexuality Isn't to Blame for Monkeypox, the UK Faces Reality

Ghislaine Maxwell Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Trafficking Young Women

List of Major Companies Pledging to Pay Employees' Travel Costs for Abortions in Wake of Roe Ruling

Biden Administration to Expand Abortion Pill Access, HHS Secretary Says

Trump: 'God Made the Decision' to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Ohio Heartbeat Bill Is Now the Law of the Land

Canada: Police Arrest Freedom Convoy Leader Tamara Lich Yet Again

Texas Congressional Candidate Monica De La Cruz: 'The Democrat Party Has Just Moved So Far from the Values That Are Important to Hispanics'

Red Wave Watch: Over 1 Million Voters Have Switched to the GOP

NY Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Allowing Noncitizens to Vote

'These Deaths Are on Biden': Texas Governor Abbott Lashes out after 46 Migrants Found Dead in Tractor-Trailer

School District Forces Teachers to Keep Parents in the Dark About Their Children

'God, What Have I Done?': Man Suing Health Care Provider over Trans Surgery, Says 'Avalanche' of De-Transitioners Coming

'Honor Them For Their Great Sacrifice': Chris Pratt Praises Men and Women in Uniform after WWII Veterans Surprise Him at Hollywood Premiere

Justice Clarence Thomas on Black Communities

29-Year-Old Trans 'Woman' [Biological Male] Beats 13-Year-Old Girl to First Place in NYC Women's Skateboarding Contest



Search the Articles Archives

Keyword:  
Author:  
Words Posted On:  
Day Month Year



BCN Plus

Follow BCN on Twitter
Are You Praying for Our Government Leaders?
BCN Staff

Steve Shultz
Steve Shultz, Managing Editor
Founder and Owner


Aimee Herd
Aimee Herd, Editor


BCN Plus
Are You Praying for President Trump?
 
 

All articles on this site and emails from BCN are copyrighted property of Breaking Christian News. Permission is given to link to, or share a BCN story if proper attribution is given to both the original writer and summarizer of the story. Breaking Christian News 2005-2019. All Rights Reserved.


Breaking Christian News is a division of Elijah List Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Disclaimer: Articles and links, as well as the source articles linked to; do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Breaking Christian News.

editor@breakingchristiannews.com