Nineveh Plain Protection Units training Assyrians to fight Islamic State.
But if the Nineveh Plain Protection Units are successful, a skeptical Michael Stephens said, Assyrians had better be ready for a surprise when they return home.
“One of the biggest problems is that when ISIS leaves an area, it leaves it full of roadside bombs and mines and traps everywhere, which makes the place uninhabitable for anybody who wants to move back,” said Stephens, a Middle East expert at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies.
Either way, all sides face a potentially harsh winter, and internally displaced persons and refugees across the region got some very bad news this week, as the United Nations World Food Program announced that it had run out of funds and was cutting off its programs in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.
“I’m not sure [the shortfall] can be made up,” said Atonement Father Elias Mallon, external affairs officer of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which is raising money and trying to help fill in some of the gaps. “When the UN runs out of money, that takes an important component off the scene, and it’s just going to make the humanitarian crisis worse. There are hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons in northwestern Iraq. In that part of the country there are high mountains and it can get very very cold in the winter.”
Assisting the refugees, too, is a battle to save innocent lives.
John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.