Iraq: Christian churches unite to begin rebuilding on the Plains of Nineveh
On Monday 8th May in the villages of Bartella, Karamless and Qaraqosh an “Olive Tree Ceremony” will mark the beginning of rebuilding work on the first 100 homes of the Christian refugee families, in a programme sponsored by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Father Andrzej Halemba of ACN, who is an acting chairman of the “Nineveh Reconstruction Committee” has described this moment as a “historic and unrepeatable occasion for the future of Christianity in Iraq”.
By Daniele Piccini
Next week, on three separate sites in three villages of the Nineveh Plains, the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will inaugurate rebuilding work on the first 100 of the nearly 13,000 private houses damaged and destroyed by militants of the Islamic State (IS). On Monday 8th May, by the village churches in the three Christian villages of Bartella, Karamless and Qaraqosh, olive trees will be given to the owners of the houses in order to plant them close to their houses. Also a message will be given to these families: put back your roots where you were born, live and bring fruits of peace and reconciliation.
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Among those present at the “Olive tree ceremony” to mark the start of rebuilding work will be the members of the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC), which includes representatives of the three main Christian Churches in the region, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church, together with three experts and consultants appointed by ACN and Mr Philipp Ozores, who is secretary general of ACN.
The committee was set up on 27th March this year in order to plan and supervise the reconstruction of the nearly 13,000 or so Christian houses and homes damaged (669 of them totally destroyed) by the forces of IS during their occupation of the region. The overall cost of the rebuilding programme is estimated at over $(US)250 million dollars. ACN has already made available $(US)490,000 to the committee and to the three Christian churches it represents.
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