Iraq: 10 years after ISIS invasion, Christians still need help

Iraq: 10 years after ISIS invasion, Christians still need help Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq Photo: Catholic

Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that about 9,000 Christian families have returned to their homes on the Nineveh Plains after fleeing a decade ago, when ISIS took the region.

In June of 2014, the Islamist extremist group captured Mosul and the villages to the north and east of the city, prompting a mass exodus of Christians and Yazidis, among others. The occupation of Mosul left other Christians on the Nineveh Plains vulnerable, and indeed, on August 6, 2014, prompted by further ISIS aggression, the entire Christian population fled to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Archbishop Warda told ACN that 13,200 Christian families had fled to his archdiocese in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. He said he was grateful to the international community – including ACN – for providing emergency aid and helping to rebuild the destroyed villages, making it possible for thousands of Christian families to return to their native land, with “everyone working towards one goal.”

He added that “all those sad and terrifying memories are still there, but at least [the Christian families] can start building and see that the future is in [their] hands.” The archbishop underlined that the “churches are filled again,” and “there are so many children” receiving catechesis and preparing for their First Holy Communion.