Few Christians return to Mosul left in ruins

Twenty Christian families have returned back to Mosul in northern Iraq after the Islamic State, Daesh, left the area.
Churches are destroyed; only a few people can come together for worship in the ruined city.

Tack för att du har registrerat dig!

Du kan nu läsa ytterligare 10 gratisartiklar på Dagen.se.

Läs den svenska versionen: Få kristna har återvänt till sönderbombat Mosul

– We fleed and we couldn’t get anything with us.

Minr Z Botros and his wife, who are Christians, rapidly packed a bag when Daesh bombed Qaraqosh, a Christian suburb of Mosul with two million inhabitants. It was in the summer of 2014.

Daesh surrounded the area and were shooting at the Christians. Minr Z Botros escaped in the middle of the night in a chock-full car, one of a thousand-strong convoy.

– Daesh had detonated a bomb in the city center. At least three people died that night, among them a small child, he says.

The terrorists seized the couple’s apartment and business, stole their possessions and destroyed the house. Their life work disappeared over night.

– What I miss the most is our wedding photo and our photo albums. Everything is gone, says Minr Z Botros, who now lives some twenty kilometers away in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

There he has received help from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Kirkuk, and is now working as a driver. He grew up in Mosul and recently he spent four days over Christmas in Qaraqosh and met old friends. Sixty-seventy per cent of the inhabitants of his area have left the country, he says. But he intends to remain where he is now.

– It was nice to meet old friends, among them a church custodian. But at the same time it was tragic and sad. Many buildings are damaged and laying in ruins, and have not been rebuilt yet, he says.

Read more: Life returned when they got water


Known as Nineveh

Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq, in biblical times Nineveh, where Jonah was called by God to go, but disobeyed and was swallowed by a giant fish. Mosul has generally been considered the capital of the Christian minority in Iraq. In Mosul, church bells had chimed for 1,600 years until Daesh took over the city and silenced them. Assyrians, Syriacs and Chaldeans of the original Christian population were forced to flee, as well as many Muslims.

For Daesh, the invasion of Mosul was a great triumph for the self-proclaimed caliphate of the jihadists. In similar manner the terrorists ran out of steam when Daesh were bombed out of Mosul in the fall of 2017 by Iraqi and foreign forces.

The newspaper Dagen has recent photos from the devastated west Mosul, where the old part of the city has suffered the worst destruction. Every day of last summer 200 corpses were picked up from the river Tigris flowing through the city. Several mass graves have been found where Daesh murdered the inhabitants in cold blood.

In conjunction with the repossession of the city, approximately 11,000 civilians are estimated to have died in the fighting while large parts of the city’’s inhabitants fled for their lives.

Read more: ”We are afraid that ISIS will return”


Relief organizations now in place

Joachim Kandie is responsible for British Christian aid organization Tearfund’’s work in Mosul, which has been going on since October 2018. He spoke of the vast destruction of the city, but related that people are slowly returning and that several relief organizations are now in place.

– Worst of all is western Mosul. Here buildings and bridges have been bombed and the destruction is enormous. Many inhabitants have lost family members and the traumatic experience has been terrible for them since they are still frightened. “They feel that Mosul is not safe, and that there may be IS sympathizers remaining,” related Joachim Kandie.

His organization is now trying to help the returnees of all the groups with water, money for food and supplies, according to specific criteria, and to start-up small firms in order so as to be able to support themselves.

Before the Islamic State conquered the city, there were about 35,000 Christian inhabitants in Mosul. Prior to 2003 there were about 60,000. According to the newspaper Dagen, only 20 Christian families remain in the city today, since many of the Christian minority fled the country. It reports that the 45 churches in the city are now empty or destroyed, and only one church is still in use.

But Muslims in Mosul also suffered from the terrorist attack. Hakim Haji father of an eight-member Arab family, fled the city in 2015, having lived a year under IS rule. Today, they live in a semi-finished stone house in a small community in the northern part of the country. In Mosul, the IS soldiers surrounded them and they were not permitted to even use their mobile phone. Hakim’s wife Najla’a Sarhan’’s wife says she was suddenly forced to wear an all-covering niqab.

– The situation was terrible. We were afraid to go outside the house, and our only thought that the children would not be brainwashed by the IS,” they related to Dagen. Hakim Haji said, “we do not dare to go back yet, West Mosul is a ghost town.”

Provides support to everyone

Malath Baythoon, pastor of an Evangelical Church in Erbil, located 53 miles south east of Mosul, recounts that members of the congregation traveled daily with the help of two security teams to the ruined city, providing support regardless of ethnicity and religion, above all to Sunni Muslims.

– Houses are detroyed, people are dead, and families are broken up after three years under IS. Their health is poor but their souls are deeply wounded. We try to face this as best we can, Malath Baythoon said.

Translated by:  ADFA

Support families that have fled ISIS. For 133 kronor a family recieves soap, toothpaste, sanitary towels, laundry detergent, and disinfectant for a whole month. Submit your contribution through: PG 90 00 50-6 | Swish 90 00 506. Mark the gift Efter IS. Efter IS is a PMU campaign. Read more on pmu.se/efteris.

IS, Mosul and 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.

Var med och hjälp återvändande irakier

•  Vattenförsörjning.

•  Utdelning av filtar, madrasser, köksredskap, kläder.

• Utdelning av hygienartiklar.

•  Traumabearbetning och psyko­socialt stöd.

• Sjukvård.

• Kontantstöd.

Utförs i samarbete med PMU:s partner Tearfund.

SWISH: 90 00 506

PG: 90 00 50-6

Märk gåvan ”Efter IS”

”Efter IS” är en PMU-kampanj.

Läs mer på pmu.se