An estimated 3,000 displaced Christian families have not returned to Ninewa yet

January 14, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Ninewa- Christians hold religious ceremonies in Bashik, for the first time in 3 years, 15-04-2017 Photo: KirkukNow

Ammar Aziz- Ninewa

A recent survey by the Kurdistan regional Government (KRG)’s ministry of Awqaf and religious affairs indicates that an estimated 3,000 displaced Christians families which fled Ninewa after the Islamic State (IS) group took over Ninewa in 2014 have not returned to their homes yet.

Meanwhile, returnees criticize the lack of essential services in the province.

Khalid Jamal director general of Christian affairs in the ministry told (KirkukNow), “After Christian-populated areas in the Ninewa Plains were retaken from IS, only 8,000 Christian families have returned so far, while 3,000 other families settled in Kurdistan Region provinces of Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniyah are reluctant to return.”

In the wake of their control of Ninewa in mid-2014, IS forced Christians to choose between three choices: convert to Islam, pay the Jizya (a religious tax) or leave, otherwise they would have to face death.

Eventually as many as 136,000 Christians wound up fleeing persecution and sought refuge in Kurdistan Region provinces or abroad.

Christian families which have returned to Ninewa after their areas were recaptured complain about the lack of basic services.

Approximately 40 thousand Christians have returned to Hamdaniya distric

Joseph Butrus who returned to his hometown of Bartalla more than 3 months ago said, “Thanks to God we’re back home, this was our only wish. But the pace of the rebuilding process is not going well and the roads are in a bad shape.”

Joseph hopes that relevant departments attach greater attention to the Christian-populated areas to encourage the return of the displaced families.

Dawood Babawi, a Christian member of the Ninewa provincial council said, “The minimum number of Christian families have returned to the center of Mosul, however the surrounding areas of Mosul and the Ninewa plains witnessed the return of greater number of displaced families.”

Approximately 40 thousand Christians have returned to Hamdaniya district.

According to UN statistics, the Christian population in Iraq has dropped from one and a half million to as low as 250,000.

Dawood Babawi indicated that “some parts of Ninewa, particularly the Christian-populated areas are not safe; therefore many displaced families are reluctant to return in fear of their lives.”

“Christian-populated areas suffered severe devastation and have not been rebuilt. If things stay as it is now, Christians will not return”, he added.

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