Iraqi Christians torn about returning home even after region’s liberation from Islamic State

MOSUL, Iraq – Priest of Al-Nour Church (Church of Light) Rev. Emmanuel Adhad Isho told Al-Sabah Newspaper that security authorities, politicians, nor even the clergy, have done much to motivate displaced Christians to return to their homes in Mosul and other parts of Nineveh Governorate. Thousands of families sought refuge in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) when the Islamic State took control of the region in 2014.

“Although Mosul has been completely liberated from the grip of the Islamic State, we, as Christians, do not have any protection guarantees from the KRI or Baghdad governments in terms of our returning to Mosul or Nineveh Plains,” the Rev. Isho said, noting that hundreds of families have returned to their homes due to dire financial conditions, including expensive rent.

“Christians have refrained from returning to Mosul because of their exposure to various types of torture, theft, and displacement by ISIS gangs,” Isho added. “The fate of dozens of Christians in Mosul is still unknown, many of them elderly who could not leave their homes due to their deteriorated health conditions.”

Although some have returned, thousands of people from Mosul remain displaced in internationally supported camps and refuse to return for fear of their safety.

The local government in Nineveh had previously announced the return of about 3,000 Christian families to Mosul and other towns Nineveh Plains, however, about 2,000 displaced families refuse to return to their areas, in fear of ISIS cells.