Iraqi Christians in Qaraqosh are rebuilding the city that was destroyed by jihadist occupation

The people of Qaraqosh – a northern Iraqi city controlled by the Islamic State from 2014 to 2016 – rebuilt their city when Pope Francis arrived on Sunday as part of a four-day trip focusing on supporting Iraq’s Christian communities. Jowharreports.

Much of the Qaraqosh was destroyed during the jihadist occupation. Four years after the city was liberated during the Battle of Mosul, only half of the city’s population has returned.

Father George, a priest in Qaraqosh, said he hoped the pope’s visit would encourage other former residents to do the same: “After the liberation of the city, the Church encouraged people to come back and rebuild their homes. People returned but they were very careful, because when Daesh (IS group) attacked Qaraqosh it was brutal. ”

After the US-led invasion in 2003 overthrew Saddam Hussein, many Iraqi Christians moved to Qaraqosh, an almost entirely Christian city, when the economy flourished.

Many residents now look back on that time with nostalgia: “I earned early when I worked and when there was no job here, I would just go to [Kurdish] the city of Erbil, ”said one resident, Mazin George Abdel. “But today the situation is really difficult in Qaraqosh. There is no work; our lives have become difficult. ”

Issam Makoka, a grain farmer, said: “When we had to move, we left everything, and when we came back we had no money, nothing.” But the French NGO in Iraq funded a factory where Makoka now works.

“They helped us breathe again,” he said.

Click on the video player above to view the Jowharreport.

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