Before ISIS swept across the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014, driving more than 100,000 Christians into exile in Kurdistan, some 5,000 Syriac-Catholic families made their homes on ancient ancestral land in the town of Quaraqosh.
More than half of those families have school-age children, and international agencies have repaired the damage done to schools suffered during the ISIS occupation. The schools are ready to welcome the children to the new academic year. But the great challenge is that many of the families’ homes still await repair or rebuilding.
Syriac-Catholic Father Georges Jahola, who represents his church on the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC), put it bluntly in an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “if their homes are not ready for families to move back in by September and the start of the school year, many of the Christians might well decide to go elsewhere—this time leaving Iraq for good.”