Lars Adaktusson has visited Iraq and Syria several times. Last summer he attended a church service inTelskuf on the Nineveh Plain after a part of the Christian population had begun to move back.
“It is gratifying that much of the city lives, that people are back, and that much of it that has been razed is being built up. Telskuf is one of the positive examples."
"At the same time, the visit was an alarm clock. Much remains to be done, not least to restore the church with the ruined crucifixes, “that I previously visited,” Adaktusson said. He is now parliamentary representative for Christian Democrat party.
He maintains that "it’s a mixed picture" describing the situation of the Christian minority on the Nineveh Plains.
“At least half of those who fled have not yet returned. They are still afraid because of the lack of political solutions that ensure security."
At present, a great deal of aid and disaster relief is allocated to Iraq from both the UN and the EU countries and from civil society, Adaktusson said, “but when the central government in Baghdad will begin to allocate aid according to population apportionment, the tiny Christian minority will fall far down the priority list.”
“For example, this has led to the USA starting to give direct aid to civil society via the churches, among others, so that assistance should not disappear down the road. We in Europe should be able to do the same. I see how NGOs and churches make great efforts in the area,” Adaktusson said.
“Is the Islamic state today a threat to the Nineveh Plain?”
“The Islamic State as an organization and its formation of a caliphate has disappeared both in Iraq and Syria. There is no doubt that the war against IS has been successful because of the international coalition of 60 countries, the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga. But there are still some pockets of IS resistance remaining.
"At the same time the problems of radicalization and extremism have not disappeared, and these problems have to be taken seriously. Tomorrow it can be a new organization that is radicalized and constitutes a new threat to the population."
Adaktusson believes that self-government for the Christian minority on the Nineveh Plain would be a good political solution so as to create long-term stability and security in the area. It is such a solution that local politicians and church leaders advocate, according to Swedish foreign affairs.
"Before the IS attack and genocide that began in 2014, the Iraqi government made a decision that the Nineveh Plain could be given political self-government. This is within the scope of the Iraqi Constitution. Now it is just a matter of its implementation. It is not an unreasonable thought, and little needed to target support in the area for self-government."
Adaktusson is currently worried about the continuous increase of international persecution and harassment against Christians. The latest survey from the organization Open Doors shows that it is in the Muslim countries where the situation is the worst.
"We have to openly state that this is not just about extremism and Islamism, but that there are also more structural problems in Muslim majority communities when it comes to viewing Christians; where they are treated as second-class citizens in a discriminatory manner."
Lars Adaktusson wants to see Sweden and other countries demanding religious freedom in Muslim countries linked to trade agreements and assistance, and where the persecution of Christians is explicitly stated.
Artikelserie: Efter IS
Humanitarian needs in Iraq:
- 6.7 million Iraqis are considered in need of humanitarian aid (18% of the population).
- 2 million are still internally displaced, of which over half have been homeless for over three years.
- The support necessities are: Health, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, food, other material needs. Support to establish livelihoods and more.
So many need support for:
- Health - 5.5 million.
- Water, sanitation and hygiene - 2.3 million.
- Education -Of which there are 2.6 million children who need schooling.
- Food - 2.4 million.
- Other material needs - 2.3 million.
- 60 percent of the families have an income that is below the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket, SMEB.
- Source: Iraq Humanitarian Country Team, Nov. 2018.
Christians in Iraq
Assyrians, Syrians and Chaldeans in the Christian indigenous people have their settlement in the Nineveh plain in Northern Iraq.
After the IS terrorists attack in the summer of 2014, many departed the country. Today, the Christian minority is, perhaps, down to 250,000 people, in a country with about 38 million inhabitants.