MOSUL, Iraq — Now in his seventies, Joseph Gabriel has decided to return to his damaged house in Mosul, despite the property’s uninhabitable state.ISIS militants had taken hold of the property during their three year tenure in the city. Like many other residents of the city, the Christian local has yet to receive financial assistance to repair his home.
“This is my house. I bought it for a handsome amount of money,” Gabriel told Rudaw on Friday.
“It is uninhabitable. How am I supposed to live in it? […] I should be compensated in order to be able to cover the cost of repairing my house, to reside in it with my wife,” he added.
Many churches still lie in ruin nearly seven years after ISIS swept through the province of Nineveh, with others slowly being rebuilt with the hopes Christians will return.
Only 50 families have returned to Mosul since the city was liberated from ISIS in mid-2017, according to Shahr Nuri, a priest at Mosul’s Al-Bishara church.
“Activities are taking place at the Al-Bishara church in Mosul. Renovation works are coming to an end at the Mar Petros Chaldean Church. I believe, in the future, there will be more churches to be opened with the help of organizations,” said the priest.
ISIS destroyed more than 30 churches in Mosul and 40 across the Nineveh Plains during their rule, according to data received by Rudaw from Chaldean bishop Najib Mikhael and MP Klara Odisho Yaqub in 2020.
Most Christians fled to the Kurdistan Region as the terror group advanced.
Some 1.5 million Christians lived in Iraq before 2003.
Only 350,000 remain, according to Mikhael and MP Yaqub.
Translation by Zhelwan Zeyad Wali