Eastern Christians: A Timid Return Begins in Iraq and Syria

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Mgr. Michaeel Najeeb
The good news is worth mentioning: timidly, many Christian families who fled during the 2014 occupation of Mosul, which fell into the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS), are beginning to return to the Nineveh Plain.
This is what Najim al Jubouri, governor of the province of Nineveh, told Fides on November 11, 2020. According to him, two hundred families should finally return to their homes in the coming weeks or months.

A first contingent of ninety families is due to return to the Christian quarters east of the old city of Mosul, as soon as essential municipal services have been restored, and security conditions are fully assured.

Christians who fled the Nineveh Plain in the face of the relentless advance of ISIS troops in 2014 had mostly found refuge in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, especially in the suburbs of Erbil, the capital city.

Already, in 2017, a few weeks after the final liberation of Mosul, some 1,400 families had decided to return to their homes, notwithstanding the extreme precariousness of the conditions there at the time.

If the announcement of the gradual return of Christians to the plain of Nineveh – one of the cradles of Christianity – is an encouraging sign, this movement is far from counterbalancing the massive exodus of families who have no intention of coming back.

This return is due in particular to the new Bishop of Mosul, Mgr. Michaeel Najeeb. A Dominican friar, he managed to remove around 800 ancient manuscripts during his flight to Erbil. There was invaluable support for Christian refugees.

He also continues a work begun 25 years ago: digitizing the manuscripts. These, written in Aramaic, Arabic, Armenian or Syriac, contain spiritual treasures.

Appointed Bishop of Mosul on December 22, 2018, he then set out to travel across Europe for support and help for Christians in the East, and to help exiled families return to Mosul. His activity is bearing fruit today.

Finally, in neighboring Syria, a conference was organized on November 11 and 12 in Damascus, with the support of Russia, in order to encourage the return of Syrian refugees – Christian or not – to a country where the “home of the international terrorism has been practically destroyed,” according to President Vladimir Putin.
(Sources : Vatican News/Fides/Russia Today/Valeurs actuelles – FSSPX.Actualités)
Illustration : Flickr / © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)