A new year has passed in which Syriacs could not celebrate Christmas in their home city of Mosul as churches remain in a state of disrepair.

“To this day, we do not have full guarantees of decent living, dignity, and complete security in Mosul,” says Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mosul.

ERBIL / MOSUL, Iraq – The Syriac Orthodox bishop Mar Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf said that none of his church members were able to celebrate Christmas in Mosul this year, because all the Syriac Orthodox churches in the city remain destroyed. Not one stone has been reconstructed. In a TV-interview reported by Ishtar TV, the bishop of Mosul, Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk), and the Kurdistan Region, stated that his own church does not have the financial resources to reconstruct the Syriac Orthodox churches in Mosul. He also put blame on the central government in Baghdad, complaining that it has neglected its duties and did not help in rebuilding the churches, “it did not place a single stone in any of our churches in Mosul.”

On the positive side he mentioned that, with the help of Swiss and French NGOs, his church will now start with the full reconstruction of the third century Saint Thomas (Mar Touma) Cathedral.

“When there is no church to pray in, we cannot stay in that area. To this day, we do not have full guarantees of decent living, dignity, and complete security in Mosul.” He added that Christians cannot remain in a place where there is no rule of law that protects a person, “because we as Christians do not have a culture of transgression and violence against others, so there must be a government present. And security institutions. In the event of a malfunction, they protect and defend us.”

Mosul was a multicultural and multi-religious city before it was conquered by Islamic State in 2014. Tens of thousands of Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians fled Mosul and the Nineveh Plains with the advance of the brutal terrorist organization. About 35% of the displaced Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian Christians have returned to their hometowns of Baghdede (Syriac Catholic), Bartella (Syriac Orthodox), Tel Kepe, Alqosh, Tesqopa, and Batnaya (all Syriac Chaldean).

Since fleeing for Islamic State, bishop Sharaf has resided in Erbil, where tens of thousands of Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians live in the newly established ‘Christian’ district of Ankawa, Erbil. The church prelate is unlikely to permanently return to his former residence in Mosul for reasons of convenience, security, and simply because there are no Syriacs left to herd over in Mosul, nor have any really returned. And with this pace of reconstruction, that won’t happen anytime soon.