Despite some progress in the rehabilitation of ancient sites of worship in Mosul, more funding is required to finish restoring the city's rich tapestry of religious heritage in the aftermath of ISIS' defeat.
This news report focuses on the plight of the Christians and Yazidis from the Nineveh Plains, in particular in Mosul. The region, and especially Mosul, was more or less decimated during ISIS rule and the ensuing battles between the terrorist group and the Iraqi Security Forces, who liberated Mosul in Jul 2017.
Yazidi shrines and Christian churches in the Nineveh Plains were targeted by ISIS terrorists during the group’s ascendance and rule. Yazidis in Sinjar were hit particularly hard as they were subject to massacres and women and children were kidnapped by ISIS gangs. Nevertheless, the expulsion of ISIS from the region has led the way to the restoration of the Lalish Temple in the Sheikhan District of Dohuk Province in northern Iraq. This Temple is revered by Yazidis and is central to their identity as it represents the most important pilgrimage site for the community.
Famous churches in northern Iraq are also undergoing reconstruction processes. 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. This project was undertaken by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in coordination with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Nevertheless, leading figures from the Christian and Yazidi communities continue to assert that they require more support from international organisations and have intended requested further assistance in order to implement more rehabilitation projects in the north of Iraq.
The damage afflicted on significant religious sites in the north of Iraq are being documented by non-governmental organisations on the ground. For instance, the Mesopotamia Organisation has been conducting fieldwork for the past two years, visiting shrines, churches and monasteries to assess the damage and plan their future reconstruction.
These sites are not only important for the local communities themselves but represent invaluable assets of Iraq’s cultural heritage.