DASHTA D-NINEVEH: Five years since the liberation from ISIS, Christian Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians still afraid to return home

NINEVEH PLAINS, Iraq — The predominantly Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian region of Nineveh Plains remains immersed in turbulence due to political, military and social strife. Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian displaced persons therefore remain anxious to return home. 

Haifa Boutros, a Syriac IDP from Bartella, east of Mosul, stated to Irfaa Sawtak website: “We do not want to return to Nineveh because nothing encourages us to return, and we no longer have confidence after what we have experienced in 2014. We settled in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), and we do not know whether we will stay here or emigrate.”

Distrust in the security situation and the lack of even the most basic services and reconstruction projects are the basic challenges that impede the return for what have become minorities to their home areas in Nineveh Governorate. The control of Iranian and Kurdish armed militias over these areas have deepened the minority’s fears of the outbreak of internal fighting in their struggle for influence and dominance.

“Christians are still suffering from marginalization by the Iraqi regional and state governments. After the bitter events that we have experienced over the past years, we, the minorities, expected to receive attention from the Iraqi government after the liberation of our areas from the Islamic State,” said Fareed Samir, a displaced Christian Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian from Mosul. “However, we did not receive any support in terms of reconstructing our homes or even financial compensation. Therefore, we no longer think about returning home.”

The displaced woman Ghada Silwan, however, has not lost hope of returning to her Syriac hometown of Batnaya, east of Mosul; “We wish to return to our areas in the Nineveh Plains, but lack of services and unstable conditions make it hard, and prevented us from returning,” she told the Irfaa Sawtak website.

According to the statistics of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, only some 40 % of the displaced Christian Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians have returned from the KRI to Nineveh Plains after its liberation from Islamic State. And only some 80 families have returned to the city of Mosul.