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The Lives of 40 Iraqi Christians Kept in Limbo Over a Piece of Paper

GAIL ORENSTEIN / NURPHOTO

Aleteia - published on 09/19/14

Refugees seeking asylum told they must return to Iraq to obtain visas.

Eight Iraqi Chaldean Christian refugee families in Tbilisi, Georgia want asylum in France. However, they have been told that they must return to Iraq to obtain visas.

“I did not stop crying for a really long time,” a young woman said, according to a source in Tbilisi. She cried silently, collapsed in one of the corners of the pastoral courtyard that was loaned to the group by a Chaldean organization in Georgia. There are currently 40 people, but the number continues fluctuates. Some of them are returning to Iraq, while others arrive carrying stories—each one more horrific than the last. There is a growing acknowledgement among these exiles that they no longer have a future in their mother country. They will go anywhere that will allow them an escape from ISIS.

At the United States Embassy, they were told that they “needed to go somewhere else in Iraq.” Then they heard that France was accepting the Christian Iraqi refugees, so they headed to the French Embassy. This time they were told that they needed to go to Irbil in order to obtain visas. Most of them did not have a way to pay for the trip because they had paid out ransoms after being blackmailed, not to mention the fact that traveling to Irbil would be a huge risk for them. (As of last week, this kind of absurdity has already cost the life of a four year old in an explosion. The child’s mother lost her eyesight in the same incident.)

Exceptional measures must be adopted to save their lives, and the lives of those like them.

Accounts coming out of Iraq paint a picture of what living in Iraq is like for Christians. One example: a husband and his wife had been living isolated in their house for many weeks. When they ran out of food, they were forced to leave their house to buy bread, at which time the husband was abducted and executed.

Even Kurdistan is unsafe. Currently, the Kurds are protecting the Christians against ISIS. However, the Christians have not forgotten the past and know that they have fallen victim to the Kurds before. They also know that the Kurds are Sunni, and they have the same concerns as members of ISIS. Furthermore, the alliance is constantly being transformed.

A leader of the Chaldeans in Georgia, Bishop Benjamin Beth Yadegar, has been exerting all of his efforts to welcome his fellow Christians. Unfortunately, his own country has also been torn apart by war and it will no longer accept any more refugees. Therefore, he is urging the French to aid fellow Christians saying, “I ask you to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering. Assist them; not only with kind words, but with actions as well. I believe that this is a moral obligation for all people and every country that possesses these capacities and abilities. Take extraordinary measures to facilitate the acceptance of the documents of Christian Iraqis and rescue the fate of humanity.”

How can you provide tangible assistance and your support? You can help by making an appeal to the French Administration by writing letters to representatives and ministers, participating on social networks, or by writing to the French Embassy in Georgia at the following addresses:

ambafrance@access.sanet.ge or
Krtsanisi Street 49, 0114 Tbilisi Georgia

Or you can write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at:
Laurent Fabius 37, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 75700 Paris P.O. Box 07

This article originally appeared in the September 8, 2014 Arabic edition of Aleteia.

Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastIslamic Militants
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