UNESCO and the United Arab Emirates are supporting the reconstruction of historic Churches damaged by ISIS in the city of Mosul.
Continuing the efforts to rebuild the city of Mosul, the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in coordination with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have begun the reconstruction of several churches throughout the city. Amongst these churches are the Our Lady of the Hour Church, located metres away from the Great Nuri Mosque, and al-Tahera Catholic Church, the oldest church in Mosul.
“The reconstruction will be through UNESCO and a grant from the United Arab Emirates for the reconstruction of al-Tahera Catholic Church,” said Safa’a Alweis, the Director of the Christian Endowment in Mosul. “The Our Lady of the Hour Church is still waiting for approval to start the reconstruction process.”
While some of these churches have already seen reconstruction efforts carried out by volunteers and locals, the grant will see more coordinated efforts to rehabilitate the churches for the residents.
According to officials in Mosul, the UAE’s grant coincided with the recent visit that Pope Francis made to Abu Dhabi to attend an interfaith conference.
“The UAE had a great role in supporting and assisting Christians through direct or indirect assistance such as food baskets, camps, churches and other things,” said Khales Esho, a former Christian MP in the Iraqi Parliament.
Following ISIS invasion of the city in 2014, the militant group looted and destroyed many of the historic churches and monasteries in the city, and then converted them into courts, bases and prisons. This resulted in the massive damage to the streets cultural heritage, as many antiquities were stolen from churches that date back to the 9th century.
However, following the defeat of the militant group in December 2017, Iraqi and international organisations have attempted to rebuild these historical and religious landmarks to show Iraqi Christians that their city and country needs them, despite ISIS’ attempts to drive them out. These projects and initiatives show that the social fabric of the city has not been obliterated by the militant, despite its relentless attempts to divide up the society along religious lines.