Christianity in Iraq: Here are some signs of hope
Signs of hope are emerging for Christians in Iraq forced to flee by the ISIS invasion.
Local clergy in Qaraqosh are driving their return to their homes through a Centre for Support and Encouragement to help families rebuild their property devastated by the militant group, according to World Watch Monitor.
A series of categories identifies those most in need and then money from grants can be directed towards their house's restoration.
Local priest Father George said: 'Some 50 people a day register at our centre to have their homes restored. More will come.'
Qaraqosh's Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche, told WWM: 'I am optimistic, yes, very optimistic.
'When you look around the villages you see that life is back again.'
In Qaraqosh the picture is relatively positive. Around 1,500 families – more than 20 per cent of the total Christian population before IS came – have now gone back.
But elsewhere in Iraq it is less hopeful. More than 50 per cent of Iraq's Christian population have left the country entirely, a report earlier this year found. Many more have fled to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) which, depending on how the independence referendum goes on September 25, could become even more volatile.
And unlike those returning to the Nineveh Plain, Christians from Baghdad are still nervous about going back with eight churches closing last month. Shop owners are having to pay protection money, while Christian girls are not safe to walk alone in some Baghdad neighbourhoods, according to reports.
It comes after MPs warned development secretary Priti Patel the US and UK governments are failing to support Iraqi Christians, leaving them vulnerable to being squeezed out of their homes.
They said unless funding is immediately provided to rebuild Christian villages and homes on Iraq's Nineveh Plain, 'most Iraqi Christians who escaped ISIS to Kurdistan are likely to leave Iraq permanently'.
Signed by the Catholic peer Lord Alton as well as Labour's faith envoy Stephen Timms and Second Church Estates Commissioner Dame Caroline Spelman alongside others, a letter last month said: 'We note that DfID were able to allocate significant emergency funds for the support of residents from Mosul, and the rebuilding of the same, but nothing has been allocated to date for the many thousands of Christians and Yazidis who lost their homes three years ago (including in Mosul) and who are now faced with a grave humanitarian and existential crisis.'