Only half of Telskuf’s population have returned home

Nineveh province, 2019 – one of the old neighbourhoods of Telskuf – Photo by Ammar Aziz

Ammar Aziz - Nineveh

Even though several years have passed since their areas were cleared from ISIS, half of the Christians from Telskuf (Tesqopa) are still displaced or have migrated.

According to the statistic KirkukNow has obtained from a number of sources in Telskuf, of a total of 10,000 residents, less than 5,000 have returned.

“Before ISIS, there were more than 7,000, but there are currently 4,500 of us left. The rest were displaced and most of them have migrated,” said Salar Sulayman Budagh, the caretaker of the St. George's Chaldean Church.

The rest were displaced and most of them have migrated

Telskuf is located within Tal-Kayf district in Nineveh province; 30 kilometres north of Mosul City. It was captured by ISIS mid-2014 and remained under their control for two years.

ISIS inflicted immense damage on the Churches and public places when they took over the town in 2014.

Budagh says that most of the houses that were damaged have not been restored, and that basic services like water and electricity are not adequate. But he says that the town is secure now.

According to both the Federal and Kurdistan Region governments, tens of thousands of Christian families have not returned to their home regions, and that many have migrated abroad; 24,000 families in the Nineveh province alone have left the country.

7% of a total of 700,000 IDPs in the Kurdistan Region are Christians.

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Nineveh province, 2019 – Telskuf entrance, 30 km north of Mosul – Photo by Ammar Aziz

Naji Hurmuz Butrus, Telskuf’s commissioner, told KirkukNow: “Before ISIS, there were 1,468 families in the area, but there are 486 families currently.”

There used to be 95 houses in the town. Due to the ISIS war, 28 houses were destroyed and 17 others were burnt down.

When ISIS took over the town in 2014, they gave the Christians three choices: convert to Islam, pay Jizya (a taxasion used to be levied on Christians and Jews in the kalifates’ era), or leave the area. Most of them left.

“Those who haven’t returned fear that they will face attacks and killings. But generally speaking, there aren’t many problems currently, especially regarding electricity and water,” said Butrus.

Telskuf falls within the disputed areas. Its administration falls under the Federal government, but it’s security under the Kurdistan Regional Government.

A number of Christians from other areas also live in Telskuf because their home regions are not secure

Rasha Wadee’, head of Telskuf labour Union, told KirkukNow: “More than 50% of the area’s residents have returned. A number of Christians from other areas also live in Telskuf because their home regions are not secure.”

He added that the region is very secure and mentioned as an example how he and others have resumed their work and daily lives again without major problems.

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