Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil has unveiled plans to provide a future for Iraq’s displaced Christians – despite fresh reports showing the extent of the destruction of their homes in the Nineveh Plains.

Archbishop Warda said the churches aim to rebuild “so that the IDPs [internally displaced people] are able to return to the villages of their forefathers with hope and security”.

The Chaldean archbishop stressed that reconstruction could not begin until Mosul was liberated and villages were cleared of bombs and booby traps.

Archbishop Warda said: “The desecration and destruction in the newly liberated villages was so personal in its hatred and anger, that it dealt further deep and destabilising blows to the IDPs when witnessing their destroyed homes, livelihoods and communities.”

Fr Andrzej Halemba, Middle East project head for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), who carried out a survey of the villages in the Nineveh Plains at the end of 2016, reported that growing numbers of displaced Christians wanted to return.

He said: “The conclusions of this first ACN survey showed us that not more than one per cent of people wanted to go back. Now during my visit to Alqosh I was told that there are more, as 50 per cent of IDPs are willing to return. And this number keeps increasing.”

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