Thursday, March 2, 2017


Today, we visited a small town named Teleskof which is about 20 miles from Mosul--an Iraqi city which ISIS attacked and took over in 2014.  Mosul is a city of 3,500,000 people--the second largest city in Iraq.

Iraqi forces have regained the northern and eastern sections of the city, and have trapped the ISIS fighters in the western region.  It is hoped that within some weeks the ISIS fighters will have been fully eliminated from Mosul.  However, at a great price.  Hundreds of thousands of Mosul residents have fled from their city, and known now as displaced persons, are in many camps scattered all over northern Iraq.

But after almost three years of ISIS occupation, Mosul will need incredible assistance to allow its residents to return.  All of the infrastructure has been destroyed and needs to be either upgraded or replaced:  electricity, water, sanitation services, security protection, health services, schools, and the like.  It will be an enormous task to restore Mosul to pre-2014 days.

A house hit bit suicide bombers
Teleskof is a Christian town about 18 miles from Mosul, and it had about 1,400 families--nearly 10,000 people.  All fled in face of ISIS, and left their town empty and vacant.

However, some 200 families have returned to Teleskof and are beginning to rebuild their homes and town.  This photo shows a house blown up by suicide bombers.  While most houses were not bombed or shot up with weapons, they were damaged in other ways.  Some neighboring Arab villagers came in and looted the homes of the Christians.

A part of the town hit by bombs

This Christian town was a hub of trade, small workshops, food processing, and government services.  But some bombed areas will require massive amount of reconstruction to return to normal.
 Some of the leaders of the group have returned and have begun to reestablish their town.

A family which returned to their home
We visited one house where the family has returned, and they are so glad to be home.  The concept of "home" is a universal gift and priority for all of us.

Inside the towns Catholic Church
The Christian Church was not damaged, and the priest comes twice a month for Mass.  However, he is planning to return to the town full-time and to encourage other members of the community to return as well.  Some of the local leaders are seen in this photo.

We then met at the offices of Caritas Iraq with a group of women from Teleskof who were living away from their town, and who were engaged in discussions about their past situation and their future.  They were outspoken in their desire to return home, but adamant about certain conditions being met:  there must be adequate security to assure them that no further violence would come to their town; the basic services would have to be restored--water, electricity, health clinics, and schools; and that some type of assurance that neighboring Arab towns would not create new problems for them.  CRS continues to support Caritas Iraq and they serve many people jointly.

A vast displaced persons camp
On the way back to Erbil we passed a very large camp for displaced persons.
Young people playing volleyball in the camp

[For more information on the wonderful work of CRS, visit: ]