Defiant Iraqi Christians prepare to return to historical homeland
Over 1,000 Christian families forced from their homes by the deadly campaigns of the Islamic State group are keen to return to their homes in Iraq's northern Niveveh province, the country's Chaldean Church said on Sunday.
Louis Sako, the head of Iraq’s Chaldean Church, said that a poll conducted by the church found that a total of 1,300 families had expressed a desire to return "quickly" to their homes in Nineveh province, to towns including Tall Usquf, Baqofa, and Batnaya and restart "normal lives and business".
In a statement, Sako noted that while many Christian villages surrounding Mosul had been liberated from IS, in recent months houses in such communities remained in a state of disrepair having been damaged, burnt, destroyed and looted, also calling on water and electricity supplies in such areas to be restored.
Sako called on the supporters of the Christian community both in Iraq and worldwide to support the re-settlement of Nineveh's Christians in their historical homeland, also calling on the United States and EU, in addition to the Iraqi government, to help in the reconstruction process.
The head of Iraq's Chaldean community also expressed concern that de-mining operations would have to be carried out in villages in Nineveh before locals could safely return and farm their land stating that rehabilitation projects, lead by the Chaldean church, would begin "as early as next week".
Speaking to The New Arab, the mayor of Tall Usquf Bassam Yacoub said that Christian towns in Nineveh had suffered extensive damage, with booby-trapped explosives still active in the area.
"We are working to restore life to these areas with the government and international organisations in order to provide assistance for the reconstruction of the Christian towns," said Yacoub.
For his part Ninos Abdul Ahad, a Nineveh native displaced to Erbil by IS advances in the area in 2014, said that many families had already begun to return to the province to rebuild homes and churches.
"The Christians will return to their land despite the destruction we will rebuild churches, schools, and homes, and remove the remnants of IS," said Abdul Ahad, striking a defiant tone.
"We will not abandon the land of our fathers and grandfathers."