Mosul: Barely 40 Christians home

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• Priest’s struggle to revive Church in city post-Daesh (ISIS) By John Pontifex EXACTLY two years on from the liberation of Mosul from Daesh (ISIS), only 40 Christians at most have returned home to Iraq’s second city.

Father Amanuel Adel Kloo, the only priest in Mosul, said most of the faithful are still too afraid to return to the city whose Christian roots date back 1,800 years or more. As many as 15,000 Christians lived in Mosul before the Islamist take-over in mid-2014 and, before the fall of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein in 2003, the faithful numbered 35,000. In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need marking the second anniversary of the Iraq’s government declaration of victory over Daesh in Mosul (9th July 2017), Father Kloo said barely 40 Christians were now living in the city. He said: “There are a very small number of Christians [in Mosul] now because people are still afraid.” Amid reports of continuing pro-Islamist sentiment in the city and widespread insecurity, Father Kloo said that many Christians were willing to come to Mosul during the day but were too afraidto stay the night. The priest reported that up to 1,000 Christians studying at Mosul University commute daily from the nearby Nineveh plains and as far away as Dohuk, in the far north of the country. Hundreds more Christians are employed to work in Mosul, he said. Father Kloo said he hoped his plans to restore a church complex in Mosul would encourage more Christians to return to the city. Describing his mission in Mosul as to “serve beneath the Cross”, Father Kloo said the reconstruction of the Church of the Annunciation – one of the first churches to be repaired since the ouster of Daesh – was an important sign for Christians in the city. The Syriac Catholic priest said: “We hope that the church will be open in three months [and] that when it opens a lot of people will come. “We still need other things to help people come back – we need a school, we need a housing complex for people who are poor and don’t have enough money to rebuild their own houses. I am hopeful that hundreds of people will return.” Father Kloo said it was very difficult to encourage people to believe in a future for Christians in Mosul. When Daesh seized the city in June 2014, Christians fled en masse after being forced to choose between conversion or death, and during the Islamists’ occupation of Mosul there were mass executions and slavery. Other acts of genocide included the requisition of Christian homes which were daubed with ‘n’ for Nazarene – meaning Christians – and churches destroyed or turned over for military use. Aid to the Church in Need has prioritised emergency help for Iraqi Christians fleeing Daesh and, since the liberation of Nineveh, has helped restore homes, churches and other structures there to enable the faithful to return home with reports that 9,130 families – 46 percent of the 2014 total – are now back. Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action. Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world. Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians. Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West. Please always acknowledge Aid to the Church in Need as the source when using our material. For more information, contact John Pontifex on 020 8661 5161. Aid to the Church in Need sends out its press releases to members of media organisations, and individuals who have specifically requested to be on our list. If you no longer wish to receive our press releases please email with the word “Remove” in the subject box. ACN’s Privacy Policy can be found at