Brad Miner reports on the return of Christians to the Nineveh plains in Iraq. This “Dunkirk in reverse” is the result of the efforts of international aid agencies . . . and the grace of God.
The day after Labor Day marks the return to school of millions of American kids. This year, God be praised, it will also mark the return to school of Iraqi Christian children, who with their families are returning to the Nineveh plains to reclaim their homes and lives that were so brutally uprooted by terrorism and war. Aid to the Church in Need USA, the American division of the international papal agency, has been instrumental in helping to make this possible. I serve on the board of directors of ACNUSA. Our TCT colleague and contributor George Marlin is chairman of the board.
In an earlier column, I wrote about a speech Mr. Marlin gave in which he called for a new Marshall Plan for the Middle East. I’m happy to report that the first steps in implementing such a plan are underway in Iraq.
We’re truly thrilled that this month ACN hopes to repatriate 15,000 people in Qaraqosh, Iraq – that’s 3,000 families.
This plat, with damaged homes over-lined in yellow, shows how extensive the destruction was:
Overall in the Nineveh Plain, more than 1200 homes were totally destroyed by ISIS, more than 3000 were damaged due to fire, and another 8000-plus were damaged and now need repairs of some kind. Of churches, the numbers are, respectively, 34, 132, and 197. It’s what you might call an unnatural disaster.
But as I also wrote earlier, the repatriation of Christians in the Church’s original homeland depends upon peace. And although ISIS has been pushed out of Nineveh, it remains to be seen if the safety and security of Iraqis – in Nineveh and elsewhere – can be guaranteed.
Here’s the story:
When the world’s recent refugee problem first became news, it was usually in terms of fighting between ISIS and various domestic armies and militias – mostly in Iraq and Syria. Most of us have seen photographs of long lines of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing either from the fighting or from the ultimatums ISIS made to Christians: convert to Islam, leave your homelands, or die. Very few Christians chose to convert and some were put to the sword. But most – along with many, many Muslims – simply fled: either to foreign countries or to refugee camps.