Mosul Christians' situation worse now than during ISIS rule, says Iraqi priest

Christians in Mosul are now in a situation which is far worse than the one they were in when the Islamic State overran their town, says a local priest. This is because they are now caught in the middle of clashes between the Arabs and Kurds, as well as that of the Shiites and Sunnis, without the possibility of receiving help.

(REUTERS / Ahmed Malik)An Iraqi man carrying a cross and a Koran attends a mass at Mar Girgis Church in Baghdad, July 20, 2014.

Speaking to Asia News in an interview, Amadiya (Kurdistan) diocese priest Fr. Samir Youssef said some of the Christian families from Mosul have gone back to Dohuk and Alqosh because of the violence in the Nineveh plains. Their departure was spurred by the recent violence in Teleskof and the fear that they could become targets of new attacks in the area.

Fr. Youssef said the displaced people were afraid of a potential "Kurdish response" which could affect them. With brewing instability in the region, he admitted that they were living in fear and did not know where they should go to. He currently looks over 3,500 Christian, Muslim, and Yazidi refugee families.

"The situation is worse than when Isis arrived, because then governments and NGOs helped us," said Father Youssef. "Closing airports in Kurdistan complicates the situation and only 30% of the refugees have been able to return to their homes."

In addition, wages have dropped because of a "tightening of Baghdad tax on funds destined for the Kurdish region." The Iraqi priest said the Church has made efforts to help them, but he sees a miracle as the only thing that could likely turn the situation around.

When Mosul began showing signs of reconstruction in April since ISIS was driven away in December 2016, CGTN reported that returning Christians could be caught in Iraq's complicated sectarian issues and would have no one to turn to.

ISIS had stirred a lot of sectarian tension in one village on the way to Mosul. The place is currently under Shia militia control, but most of the people are Sunni. It is feared that the tension could erupt anytime once the militias leave the region.