While many people seem to think that the US has liberated Iraq, first from Saddam Hussein and then from the Islamic State, for the Assyrian Christian community in Iraq, one of the world’s most ancient Christian communities, the liberation has been less than successful. They have been devastated by persecution and many have had to flee the land where they have survived for many centuries. Sadly, the thousands of refugees have received very little attention and assistance. Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut describes the situation in “The Latest UN Horror Show: Christian Refugees Ignored,” published Aug. 4, 2019 by the Gatestone Institute. Here are is a brief excerpt:
Since the 2014 invasion and genocide by the Islamic State (ISIS) in
Iraq, at least 16,000 Assyrian Christians from Iraq have become refugees
in Jordan. Most are still suffering economically and psychologically
there, under extremely difficult circumstances….
Lorance Yousuf Kazqeea, a Christian originally from Baghdad, for
instance, has been an asylum seeker in Jordan with his wife and two
children since September 2017, and is still trying to immigrate to the
United States. He told Gatestone:
“The greatest challenge for us here is that Iraqi
Christian refugees can’t work legally. I was an IT (information
technology) specialist in Baghdad. Many Christians from Iraq used to
have a good job or business there. But we have lost everything. How are
we supposed to support our families now? We rely on aid from charity
organizations, churches and family members outside of Jordan. And in
special and rare cases refugees get monthly salaries from the UNHCR.
“Christians from Iraq want to move to the West for safety and
stability. But since January, the process has become even slower and
more difficult. The UNHCR has not even granted newcomers refugee status
since. They just give them an appointment date, then they cancel the
date and give them a new one. So we all keep waiting.”
The UNHCR was approached by Gatestone for a comment but has not replied.
Juliana Taimoorazy, founding president of the Iraqi Christian Relief
Council, which has been active in Jordan since 2015, told Gatestone:
“Assyrian refugees in Jordan have lost everything in
Iraq. One of the victims that our organization has been trying to help –
a Christian mother in her 50s – used to have a hair salon in Iraq. ISIS
terrorists attacked her, knifed her, destroying her abdominal area. The
terrorists then set fire to her salon, home and everything else she
owned. She and most of her family had to migrate to Jordan to seek
asylum. They then applied for resettlement in Australia but were refused
four times. However, their situation is even more tragic now. Her
youngest children contracted an eye virus and are losing their eyesight
gradually. Every 6 months, they have to renew the treatment and get new
glasses. Her oldest daughter died recently in Iraq. Her teenage
daughter, who was an excellent student in Iraq, has been unable to go to
school for the last four years because she does not have the
appropriate paperwork to go to school in Jordan. And because of that,
she is suffering from severe depression. Around 50.000 Assyrians that
have had to leave Iraq and have become refugees in Jordan, Turkey and
elsewhere have similar painful stories.”
Taimoorazy made a plea to help the Christian victims of ISIS:
“We’ve been told ISIS has been militarily defeated, but
will we leave the victims of ISIS alone? The aftermath of the ISIS
genocide in Iraq is more important for the world to pay attention to.
The victims are still suffering.
“The past atrocities… are unfolding before our eyes every day.
Because of the refugee situation they are in, the Christian victims of
ISIS have still not been liberated. For example, at least three children
from one family are about to lose their eyesight because the parents
are not able to provide money for their treatment. And their hope is
diminishing. But we have more power than we are willing to admit. You
can contact the local UNHCR office in your country and demand answers –
why Iraqi Christians have been waiting for resettlement for years and
why the West continuously rejects them. Western NGOs and churches can
also have a local representative in Jordan. Every single individual can
make a difference. The wounds of the victims of ISIS are still bleeding.
Let us not stand on the sidelines.”
Most recently, the post-2003 Iraq War and the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, have displaced much of the remaining Assyrian community from their homeland as a result of ethnic and religious persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists. Of the one million or more Iraqis reported by the United Nations to have fled Iraq since the occupation, nearly 40% were Assyrians even though Assyrians accounted for only around 3% of the pre-war Iraqi demography.
The plight of Christian refugees does not seem to get adequate attention
from the UN and other nations. Maybe your voice and compassion can help