March 2017: Newly-ordained priest Father Martin Banni (pictured) returned with the Blessed Sacrament to his church in the ancient Nineveh Plains, northern Iraq, following the expulsion of Daesh (ISIS). In a message to Aid to the Church in Need, the priest described the welcome he received from his flock, who were beginning to return after more than two years living in displacement in Kurdish northern Iraq.
Fr Martin wrote: “I was the first priest to bless the people in the church in my home village in northern Iraq.”
The priest recalled how, on the night of 6th August 2014, he whisked the Blessed Sacrament to safety as he fled Karemles, just before Daesh stormed in.
Fr Martin’s return to Karemles in spring 2017 came amid plans involving Aid to the Church in Need to enable Christians to return to the Nineveh Plains with an emphasis on repairing thousands of homes damaged by Daesh. The programme follows a massive ongoing emergency relief operation for the 120,000 displaced Christians and others in Kurdish northern Iraq.