Small Wars Journal

For Religious Minorities Targeted by ISIS, New Schools and Clinics. But Where are the People?

For Religious Minorities Targeted by ISIS, New Schools and Clinics. But Where are the People? By Tamer El-Ghobashy – Washington Post

BATNAYA, Iraq - More than two years after Islamic State militants were ousted from this ancient town in northern Iraq, only one man has returned. He lives in the wreckage of a house that has enough of a ceiling to protect him from the winter rains, with four or five stray dogs at any time for company.

 

In the shadow of a church pocked with bullet holes, he survives on food donated by local security forces in exchange for performing an important task: keeping looters and vandals away from three newly renovated schools and a new medical center. Each has a sign in Arabic stating it was rebuilt through a partnership between the United Nations Development Program and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

 

Batnaya, once home to some 6,000 Chaldean Catholics, is a small but striking example of the enormous challenge facing the Iraqi government, United States and United Nations in rebuilding and repopulating areas devastated by the Islamic State occupation and the three-year war to rid Iraq of the militants.

 

At the current rate, it could take a generation or more to reconstruct what the conflict has ruined. Iraqi officials say it will require $88 billion to recover, far more than the government can muster on its own, and foreign help is falling far short of plugging that hole. Nor is there any guarantee that residents would return even to those pockets that are being restored if security can’t be assured and vital services provided.

 

As a result, Iraq now confronts a double danger…

Read on.