For many, it will be the first Christmas they get to celebrate in their own homes. They had to spend the past three Christmases essentially homeless, as refugees in their own country after ISIS had driven their families from the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014.
“The Nineveh plains were home to more than 40 percent of the Christian population in all of Iraq. While East Mosul has seen 90 percent of its people return, the Nineveh Plains has seen only 12 percent of the Christian population return even though these territories were liberated earlier than Mosul."
“I don’t approve of Christians leaving the Nineveh Plains. I believe you shouldn’t leave your birthplace and you shouldn’t leave your homeland. People don’t have to leave this area because of their safety, because ISIS is in the past now. I have a good feeling about the future. Life is good here—feel welcome!”
Patriarch Sako told the group that he’s 69 years old, and he’s only known nine years of peace in his life. A cleric from the region got up to say he’s only 41, and he hasn’t known peace at all - during every one of those 41 years, his life has been defined by some form of violent conflict.