Source: AINA, Vatican News, ACN
The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) report that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, has called on Christians to return home to Iraq after the defeat of the so-called Islamic State. AINA says Prime Minister Al-Kazemi is serious about providing assistance to Christian families.
He is quoted saying: "Iraq is a country for everyone, and Christians are the original children of the country. We are glad that Christians will return to Iraq and contribute to its reconstruction. Iraqis of all sects are yearning for a new Iraq that believes in peace and rejects violence."
On Sunday, Al-Kazemi met with Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, who hopes the Iraqi government will continue to meet the aspirations of the people and enable it to address many of the challenges facing the country.
Cardinal Sako said there are a large number of Christians that want to return to Iraq: "The Church supports Al-Kazemi's steps towards achieving security and stability throughout Iraq," he said. "Christians are proud of their Iraqi identity, and they feel more reassured, in light of the serious handling of the Al-Kazemi government of the Christian file."
The Christian population in Iraq has declined by 90 per cent to below 250,000. Some reports suggest the actual figure may be lower than 120,000. When Daish/ISIS seized Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014 forcing out the region's entire Christian population, such was the devastation that many feared the community would never recover. Following the ousting of ISIS in late 2016 the faithful began to return.
In Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town, half of the Christians have returned, helped by organisations such as Aid to the Church in Need. But they face great difficulties, including a lack of security and intimidation.
Aid to the Church in Need - www.acnuk.org
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