02/18/2009, 00.00
IRAQ

Dozens of Christian families go back to Mosul

Over the past two months, 81 families have returned to the city. Sources for AsiaNews in Mosul say there is a climate of "hope and fear." The central government is paying more attention to the conditions of refugees. The Iraqi deputy minister criticizes European governments for "inciting families to flee."

Mosul (AsiaNews) - Over the past two months, dozens of Iraqi Christian families have returned to Mosul. In the local community, there is a climate of "hope and fear"; in Baghdad, the government seems to be paying more attention to the conditions of refugees.

Today, authorities in Mosul announced the return of a substantial group of Christian families to the city. One official confirms that "between January and February, 81 families returned to their homes." According to the department for immigration and refugees, there are still 10,000 families of refugees in Al-Hamadaniya, a district 30 kilometers east of Mosul.

From Baghdad, there are signs of interest in the condition of refugees. The government says it is "taking care of the Christians," and the "concrete problems" of the people are beginning to be discussed. "This aspect," a local source confirms for AsiaNews, "is evident also in the results of the elections for the renewal of the provincial councils. Slogans of a religious nature were banned, and concrete questions were discussed: the shortage of electricity, of running water, of hospitals and health care, of telephone and postal communications, of roads and infrastructure."

Yesterday, Asghar al-Moussaoui, Iraq's deputy minister for immigration and refugees, criticized European nations for "inciting Christian families to flee Iraq." "This statement is hardly credible," the source says, "especially at the present time: it seems more an individual position than that of the government, and sounds like quite a stretch." There are still many families of refugees in Jordan who are waiting for expatriate visas, and it is "difficult" for them to return to Iraq.

For the Christians in Kurdistan, the situation is different: "These families," the source concludes, "hope to return to Mosul for two reasons. They want to take possession of their homes, their businesses, their property. Also, it is expensive to rent apartments in the Kurdish area, and often families are not able to afford them."

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