After years of siege, Iraq has now been liberated from Daesh terror. But the country is still in a state of shock. The areas freed from the Daesh are almost completely destroyed; unemployment and economic decline still prevail. As in Syria, millions of people here are dependent on humanitarian aid.
The situation for the Christians in the country is disastrous as well. It is estimated that there are only 250,000 Christians living in Iraq at the moment. Thousands were killed, and hundreds of thousands fled during the war years. We support the local Church wherever we can. ACN’s involvement in the reconstruction of Christian settlements on the Nineveh Plains is our largest aid project in recent decades.
» We are pleased about every Christian who returns to Iraq. «
The effects of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq continue to ripple throughout the country, even after liberation from the Daesh. Currently, some 6.7 million people are dependent on some form of foreign aid, including 3.3 million children. The Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad explained to us in which areas Iraq still needs urgent help: “Education, political support, security in the liberated areas, humanitarian aid and the fight against fundamentalism and terrorism. The stability of this state depends on all these factors. And whether people stay or flee depends on stability.”
» Reconstruction in the Nineveh Plains is giving thousands of Christians a home again. «
ACN’s primary focus in Iraq is on tasks which are not covered by other aid agencies. For example, the reconstruction of churches and ecclesiastical institutions, monasteries, schools, kindergartens, rectories and parish centres.
ACN also actively supports the pastoral ministry of clergy and religious, e.g. through Mass stipends and material support.
» Of 19,452 families, 9,119 had returned to the Nineveh Plains by March 2019. «
The fate of Christians on the Nineveh Plains has been of particular concern to us in recent years. Daesh rebels not only set fire to houses in the Christian settlements, but also destroyed people’s livelihoods by cutting down their fruit trees and ravaging their fields. But the hatred of the ‘holy warriors’ was also directed against churches as visible signs of the Christian faith. Most Christians fled to neighbouring regions, where they were forced to persevere as internally displaced persons. ACN has provided nearly 100,000 of them with regular food and shelter in recent years.
In addition, together with the Syrian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Chaldean Catholic Churches, we have established the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee. The ambitious reconstruction programme has set itself the goal of persuading the refugees to return to the Nineveh Plains.
The project has developed into a successful model. To date, more than half of the Christians have returned to their native homeland. With the help of ACN and other aid organisations, along with government agencies from Germany, Hungary, Austria, Poland and the USA, 5,761 houses and flats have already been renovated on the Nineveh Plains. In 2018 alone, more than 9,100 families were able to find a new home here.
Through the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, ACN has provided three grants totalling 6.16 million euros for reconstruction efforts on the Nineveh Plains. And the project continues: 14,035 homes, hundreds of churches and community centres, schools and outpatient clinics are part of the largest reconstruction programme the region has ever seen.
Qaraqosh awakens to new life
Qaraqosh was the largest Christian city in Iraq before the Daesh invasion. In 2014, the town in the Nineveh Plains was occupied by Daesh rebels and largely destroyed. It was a place of death. Thanks to ACNbacked reconstruction efforts on the Nineveh Plains, Christian life in Qaraqosh is vibrant again after four years. By 2018, 377 boys and girls had already celebrated their first communion. They are part of families who fled the Islamists in 2014 and have been able to return in the past two years.
Optimal needs assessment thanks to a digital management platform
In order to manage an aid project like the Nineveh Reconstruction Programme, perfect organisation and quality control between the funding partners is required. Thanks to a digital platform that manages the housing projects, a comprehensive data pool of all participating aid agencies was created, which compiles needs more precisely for concrete assistance on site. Audit results have confirmed the high quality level of the Reconstruction Committee’s administrative tasks in terms of accountability, transparency and reporting.