‘Social reconstruction’ is vital for long-term stability in Iraq

nsnewsNSNEWS ONLINE DESK: LONDON: Parts of Iraq, including the once ethnically diverse city of Mosul, remain unsafe for Christians and other minority groups, more than a month after the government declared victory over Daesh.
Speaking during a debate in the House of Lords on Thursday discussing the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq, Christopher Cocksworth, Lord Bishop of Coventry, described the “terrible tears in the fabric of Iraqi society” and emphasised the importance of “social reconstruction” in ensuring the stability and success of post-conflict Iraq.
Along with Christians, he said Yazidis, Kurds, Turkmens, Mandaeans and Shabaks, have not returned to Mosul, the city they once called home.
Schools and media have a vital role to play in harnessing the potential that Iraq’s large youth population affords for creating a new culture of understanding and respect through education, Cocksworth said, quoting comments made to him by an Assyrian priest ministering in Dohuk.
“We may not be able to restore the Christian demography that we had in the past, but we can preserve for the future a presence and role for the Christian community in our society so that through our schools, our skills and our hospitals, we can serve all the people of this land.”
Baroness Anelay of St. Johns said: “Daesh no longer holds significant territory there, but whilst Daesh is failing, they’re not yet wholly defeated and still pose a threat to Iraq.”
She referenced Theresa May’s visit to Iraq in December, during which the prime minister acknowledged the need to address the conditions that enabled Daesh’s rise.
“We must recognize that the challenges facing minorities didn’t begin with Daesh and will not end in their defeat alone,” the Baroness added.
“Solutions must confront longstanding issues of discrimination, exclusion and marginalization.”
Raising the brutal targeting of Yazidi and Christian minorities by Daesh, which have been recognized as genocides by the UN, and the long-time suffering of the country’s Kurdish community, Baroness Hodgson of Abinger said, “The situation there, whilst improving in some ways, is far from settled.”
While the conditions remain present for the terror group to return to the country, minority communities in Iraq are fearful that, “Unless the causes of the violence are rooted out it will return and as before minorities will be the first victims,” Cocksworth said.
He pointed to the chaos following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which, by 2014 had reduced the Christian population by some 75 percent, and, “Earlier cycles of violence which wave after wave eroded their security and forced former generations to flee.”
The UK has a “moral responsibility” and “strategic interest” in helping to secure the stability and success of Iraq, he said, calling for a “long-term commitment to a coalition of reconstruction.”
Success in Iraq, so long a land marking a failure of British foreign policy, is of vital strategic importance, he continued. “Daesh might be a hydra with heads surfacing across the world, but if it can be fatally wounded in the country of its birth, it would be starved of vital sources of energy, morale and inspiration.”

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