Over 4,000 Christian families return to Mosul following victory against ISIS

Iraqi priests hold the first Sunday mass at the Grand Immaculate Church since it was recaptured from Islamic State in Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq.REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

More than 4,000 displaced Christian families have returned to Mosul since the city was fully liberated from Islamic State militants, the governor of the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh said.

Nawfal Hammadi stated that more than 4,000 families have returned to the strategic city and have resided in its eastern and western flanks, Press TV reported. He noted that most of the Christian families had resettled in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region after they were overran by ISIS.

The governor went on to note that a small number of Christian families in Erbil will be returning to Mosul once the current school year winds up.

ISIS overran vast swathes of territory in Iraq during its terror campaign that began in 2014. In the battle to take back control of Mosul, some sweeping gains were made by the Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha'abi fighters against the group.

Eastern Mosul was liberated by Iraqi forces in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and the battle to take control of the western part of the city was launched on Feb. 19 last year.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory against ISIS in Mosul in July 10 and he announced the end of military operations against the terror group in the country on Dec. 9, 2017.

Since the defeat of ISIS, several humanitarian groups have been working to restore the homes of Christians in the Nineveh Plains.

In February, Open Doors announced that 678 Christian homes have been rebuilt in the region. The group and its local partners have helped to rebuild 286 houses in Qaraqosh, which was once known to be the largest Christian town in Iraq. The charity went on to support the restoration of 392 more houses throughout the rest of the Nineveh Plains.

Other charities such as the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need were also instrumental in providing support to Christians who are returning to their homes in Iraq.

Aid to the Church in Need has provided $5 million to support projects aimed at rebuilding and repairing an estimated 2,000 Christian homes in Iraq.

Last year, the Knights of Columbus had raised about $2 million to support the rebuilding of homes in Karamdes. The U.S.-based Catholic fraternal organization had been inspired by the $2 million donation made by the government of Hungary to help the restoration of Christian homes in the town of Telskuf.

In January, the U.S. government designated $55 million to help persecuted Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities victimized by ISIS militants in Iraq.

The $55 million is part of the $75 million payment by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) in Iraq.

The USAID announced in a press release that time that it has ensured that the amount "will address the needs of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority communities" in the Nineveh Province.

Another $75 million has been designated for FFS, but USAID noted that the "fulfillment of the rest of that pledge will depend on UNDP's success in putting in place additional accountability, transparency, and due-diligence measures for the FFS."