A Christian charity is set to rebuild infrastructures in several towns in Iraq, which were destroyed by ISIS.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) announced that it has organized a restoration program to reconstruct buildings in some 13 Christian towns and villages across the Nineveh Plains. This, after Islamic militants demolished churches, statues, symbols, and anything that relates to Christianity when it besieged northern Iraq in 2014, reports Faithwire.
ACN is determined to help the Christians to stay. Our task is to stand by the people who would like to come back. —Father Andrzej Halemba, ACN Middle East projects director
The UK-based charity will first focus in Batnaya, a small Christian village in northern Iraq. Here, ISIS rebels wrote across one of the churches, “Slaves of the Cross, we will kill you all. This is Islamic territory. You do not belong here.”
Many residents were displaced for the past few years after ISIS claimed several villages in Iraq. ACN hopes that its program will “bring hope back to the small town.” The charity said within eight months of restoration work, about 300 people have returned to Batnaya. Church leaders are optimistic hundreds more will return soon once they know that their village’s infrastructures are being rebuilt.
ACN added that, “For many Christians, returning has meant overcoming memories of Daesh daubing homes with ‘n’ for ‘Nazarene’ (Christian) and demands to pay jizya Islamic tax, convert to Islam or face execution by the sword.”
Security is the primary concern of displaced Iraqis. It has been four years since ISIS militants were driven out of northern Iraq, but many families still feel threatened today. According to online Catholic daily, LA CROIX International, some families do not wish to return because of safety issues and some now have a better situation elsewhere.
In addition to encouraging residents to come back to their homeland, ACN believes that the “resettlement of Batnaya is seen as crucial for the recovery of the Christian presence in the Nineveh Plains.”
“Even if the situation is not very clear, we see the importance of a sign of hope,” said ACN Middle East projects director, Father Andrzej Halemba. “ACN is determined to help the Christians to stay. Our task is to stand by the people who would like to come back.”