Last Friday (18th November) a festival of music and dance was held in Erbil, Iraq to encourage 7,000 displaced Iraqi Christians.
The ‘Return Festival’ was been organised by 100 young people from Erbil’s Christian community, 200 displaced people and the owner of a local television company. Over a dozen Iraqi television channels covered the event, which featured choirs and dances performed by displaced people.
Families who were displaced from the Nineveh plains are in need of encouragement after seeing photos and videos of the devastation caused by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in their home towns and villages. While they have celebrated the liberation of their towns, some have begun to lose hope that they will be able to return.
Sana, a young woman from Erbil working in the trauma counselling for displaced people, explains the purpose of the festival: “With this festival we try to tell our brothers and sisters: we are with you, we support you! We want to give them hope on this day, so that they take this hope with them in the coming time.”
Her colleague, a young man named Rami, also from Erbil, says: “Their houses are destroyed after the liberation. We want to show organisations, the central government and governments around the world: You have to help them! When they go back they cannot go back to nothing! They need homes to live in and not just land.”
“We are trying to raise our voice to the world,” says Sana, “Christians here want to stay!” And Rami seconds that: “We will go and help them rebuild their cities! We want them to be as optimistic as we are!”
Iraq is number 2 on the Open Doors World Watch List a ranking of the countries where it is hardest to be a Christian.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.