Displaced Iraqi Christians look forward to a safe Iraq to return to

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Iraqi Christians are seen at a church in Amman on Thursday,ugust 21, after they arrived to safety from Iraq

Displaced Iraqi Christians look forward to a safe Iraq to return to

The Jordan Times

After Iraqi Christian Riyad Hazem found himself and his family refugees, ending up in Jordan, he seeks asylum in a Western country to feel safe again.

The 42-year-old father of two said Christians in the city of Mosul were subjected to a great threat following the fall of the city to the Islamic State (IS) terror group.

"We faced difficult conditions in Iraq. I will see how things will go in Jordan, but I want to turn to a foreign country to provide my children with a good education and quality life," Hazem told The Jordan Times in an interview at the Melkite Convent in Marj Al Hamam in Amman.

Hazem was among hundreds of Iraqi refugees who are currently hosted in the Kingdom after they were forced to leave Iraq due to the life-threatening conditions there.

Caritas Jordan, which is affiliated with the Catholic Church, has undertaken the arrangements to bring members of the vulnerable Christian sect, many of whom fled to Iraq’s Kurdistan after IS put before them the choice of conversion, paying a special tax or death.

Wael Suleiman, general director of Caritas Jordan, said the total number of refuge seekers who were secured entry into Jordan stood on Thursday at 1,000, or 200 families.

He thanked the Jordanian government for facilitating the process of transporting Iraqis and providing them with visas.

"Most of the cases face difficult health conditions and there are a number of people who were hospitalised," he told The Jordan Times Thursday.

He noted that Caritas provides them with a number of services including medical treatment, shelter and psychological therapy, and entertainment activities for their children.

"Most people suffer from trauma and diseases such as diabetes, which became worse due to the lack of medicines," Suleiman added.

He noted that several churches from across the country host displaced Iraqis.

"We cannot host more than 1,000 people due to our financial capabilities," he added.

A number of Iraqis interviewed by The Jordan Times described their experience in Iraq as "horrific" and "harsh".

Safwan, the 43-year-old father of two, said he left the city of Mosul at a late hour in the evening, fearing IS after the Iraqi army fled the city.

“The road to safety took us two hours because of the huge crowds that were also leaving the city,” he added.

He recounted that he left the city, where his people have lived for centuries, after he heard the horrifying stories about what IS members had been doing in Syria.

His children will miss school following their displacement, he lamented, but at least they are safe.

Rana Fakhri, mother of three, said she left all her belongings behind and decided to leave the city as well.

“My children were really scared when we left the city,” she added.

Fakhri, who arrived in the Kingdom on August 15, said Muslims also were affected by the IS invasion.

“They [Muslims] were really sad for what happened to us and they wanted to help but couldn’t,” she added.

Hazem said IS threatened to kidnap them and they stole the belongings of many Iraqi families.

He noted that he used the airport of the city of Erbil and arrived legally at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport.

Fakhri noted that although Caritas provides them with several services, she wanted to settle down in a foreign country, and Safwan said he will contact the UN to see if there is a chance to go to another country and settle there.

Hazem, however, said even if he manages to go to Europe, he will always long to go back to Iraq.

“It is the country where I was born and raised, and home of my friends, family and memories,” Hazem said.

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 14:21
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