An investigation by an Iraqi television network has uncovered the theft of at least 350 Christian-owned homes in Iraq.
The empty properties of hundreds of Christians who have fled the country have been occupied or seized. The problem is particularly serious in the historical Christian heartlands of the Nineveh Plain surrounding the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
Church organisations have tried to intervene, but one Christian leader in Baghdad told journalists, “In some cases, our intervention has led to restitution; in others, nothing could be done. We ran up against powerful people.”
Properties have been transferred under false names and sold on. Many Christian properties had already been seized by Islamic State terrorists when they overran Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in 2014.
The Iraqi government is now rebuilding and restoring churches destroyed and damaged during the group’s three-year occupation of Mosul – around 40 churches were damaged and 15 destroyed – but even if Christians brave enough to return have a place to worship, many no longer have a home to go back to.