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Iraqi Christians Stranded in Jordan

October 24th, 2007

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman Article

The United States embassy in Jordan is failing to process immigrant visas for Iraqi translators and others who worked for coalition forces in Iraq, despite a pledge by President Bush to expedite their relocation to the United States, Newsmax has learned from interviews with refugees, aid workers, and U.S. diplomats in Jordan.

U.S. diplomats at the vast, fortress-like embassy complex in Amman told Newsmax that the bottleneck was not their fault but was the result of a difficult ramping-up process at the local office of the United National High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which was hired by the State Department to conduct the initial screening of potential refugees to determine who qualifies for relocation to the United States.

“We have processed everyone that UNHCR has identified as a potential asylum seeker,” a senior U.S. diplomat said.

Since President Bush pledged earlier this year to increase the number of Iraqis admitted to the United States as political refugees by 10-fold, the embassy has processed 2,000 asylum applications, the diplomat said. He acknowledged, however, that most of those individuals “have not left yet” and were still in Amman.

An additional 400 special cases — translators and former U.S. embassy employees who have fled Iraq after death threats and assassination attempts — have also been processed in Amman, the diplomat and senior aides said.

But when confronted with cases of Iraqis who said that they had been waiting for nine months just to see an embassy case worker, the U.S. officials remarked that the Iraqis were wrong to attempt to contact the embassy directly.

“We don’t do refugee interviews,” a consular official of Arab descent said.

Living in Fear

Interviews with nearly a hundred Iraqi Christian refugees, officials at local churches, and international aid workers revealed a population huddling in misery, unable to work because of Jordanian government restrictions, and fearful of being deported back to Iraq.

“Iraqi Christians have suffered violence almost to a person,” said Father Keith Roderick, the Washington representative of Christian Solidarity International and Canon for Persecuted Christians.

Roderick was in Amman last week with other Christian leaders on a fact-finding mission to understand why so many Iraqi Christian refugees were still stranded in Jordan, despite a public commitment by the president to expedite the relocation of thousands of them to the United States.

“These individuals and families have been persecuted because of their Christian background, and they are living as a minority in Jordan without any protection,” Father Roderick told Newsmax. “The United States has a moral obligation to help those who are most vulnerable and defenseless as a result of the U.S. invasion.”

Refugees say that whenever they tried to approach the U.S. embassy complex in Amman, they were chased away by private Jordanian security guards, apparently on instructions from the embassy.

If they were lucky, the guards told them to go to the local UNHCR office in Amman, where they could register as displaced persons seeking relocation abroad because of persecution in Iraq.

Once at the UNHCR, however, many Christians said they were “treated like dogs” by Muslim case workers, who refused to look at their documents once it became apparent that they were Christians.

“These people are intimidated because they are here illegally,” said William J. Murray, who heads the conservative Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C. “They should not have a security guard with a high school education as their point of public contact at the U..S. embassy.”

No Hope

Here in Amman, the churches have taken over many of the functions of government for the Iraq exiles. They dispense social services, conduct English, computer, and bible study classes for children in “informal” schools, and become their advocates when dealing with the authorities.

If you want to find Iraqi Christian refugees in Amman, you go to the churches. And yet, when asked by Newsmax whether they had been visiting churches, the U.S. embassy official in charge of aid work demurred. “That’s not my job,” he said.

Top church leaders in the Assyrian, Chaldean, and evangelical communities confirmed that they had never received a visit from anyone from the U.S. embassy since the liberation of Iraq in 2003.

“The embassy is not effectively engaging with a population that is displaced as a result of our actions, and that is shameful,” former South Carolina Gov. David Beasely, who led the delegation of U.S. Christian groups to Amman, told Newsmax.

Iraqis who worked for coalition forces or for U.S. contractors in Iraq are supposed to received expedited treatment because they continue to be at risk from Islamic death squads, even in Amman.

One Iraqi Christian refugee, Jalal, giving only his first name due to fears of reprisal, told a harrowing story of being tracked by Islamic militants to Amman. He had worked for 18 months with the coalition to rebuild local governments,

One week after arriving in Amman, Islamists obtained his brand-new Jordanian cellphone number and left a message that they would “get” him and his family, no matter where they went.

As a humanitarian gesture, President Bush instructed the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to give such individuals “direct access” to U.S. officials to screen their asylum applications, via the International Office of Migration (IOM).

But in practice, the refugees continue to be rebuffed by Muslim United Nations aid workers who decline to inform them of the new program, and by a callous, distant U.S. embassy staff.

“IOM told me to fax or e-mail my documents,” Jalal told Newsmax. “One week later, they said I was not qualified. They said that they preferred interpreters, not just anyone who had worked for the coalition.”

When asked whether he had ever spoken to an American official about his case, Jalal threw up his hands in despair. “I don’t dare go to the U.S. embassy,” he said. “Nobody is allowed even to cross the road to approach the embassy,” because of the private security guards.

Other refugees said that UNHCR had simply lost their files, requiring them to resubmit documents two and three years after the initial contact with the U.N. refugee agency, with no assurance they wouldn’t be “lost” again.

Samir Dunha Audish, 51, had two daughters who worked for a U.S. contractor. The pair were murdered on their way home from work near the Baghdad airport during a terrorist ambush on Aug. 18, 2004.

Audish’s son, who also worked for the coalition, was supposed to have been in the car with his sisters, but had taken the day off by chance. When the son went to the morgue to reclaim his sister’s bodies, he was chased by insurgents who shot at his car. “He had to flee by running house to house,” Audish said.

Audish fled Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005, after militiamen from the Shiite Mahdi army of Muqtada al-Sadr came to his home and ordered him to leave within hours or be killed. “I went four times to the U.S. embassy in Amman, but the guards in the reception area kicked me out,” he said.

Christians Forced to Study Islam

Father Raymond Moussalli is Vicar at the Chaldean patriarchy in Amman. He serves a community of 10,000 Iraqi Christians, and runs a vibrant “informal” school to teach children English and Aramaic, the language of Christ that is still used in the Chaldean liturgy.

King Abdallah II of Jordan issued a royal decree this year allowing Iraqi children access to Jordanian public schools for the first time, but many Christian children interviewed here and at an Assyrian church said they preferred to study in church schools, because teachers forced Christian children in the government schools to attend Islamic education classes.

Two Jordanian government ministers told the U.S. delegation that compelling the students to study Islam runs counter to Jordanian government policy, but couldn’t rule out actions taken by “individual” teachers.

Moussalli told Newsmax and the U.S. fact-finding mission that there was “no coordination” between the international aid community and the churches, and that when they met with the UNHCR, they were told to “stop complaining.”

“I can reach the people who are in need,” Moussalli said. “I know who they are. I pastor to them every day. But the UNHCR and the others are not interesting in partnering with the churches.”

Everywhere Gov. Beasely and his small fact-finding team went, they were besieged by Iraqis who waved the temporary documents issued to them as asylum-seekers by the UNHCR.

The refugees literally begged for help, and eagerly showed letters from U.S. military officers and certificates of employment from U.S. contractors in Baghdad as proof that they had worked for the coalition, and thus were qualified to immigrate to the United States under the new policy set forth by President Bush.

Nazarit Krikor, an 49-year old Armenian whose wife had worked as a translator for the U.S. military in Baghdad, fled to Jordan in 2004 after terrorists gunned down his wife, two other women, and their driver in Baghdad’s Saddoun square on June 7, 2004.

“I went to the UNHCR here in Amman, but they wouldn’t listen to my story,” he said. He has been waiting for over three years to get an appointment with a U.S. embassy officer.

Emad Albert Yousif, 53, fled Iraq after his son was brutally murdered by Islamist terrorists, who rammed his car on his way to work on July 4, 2006 and fired more than 120 bullets into his body. The gunfire was so intense it severed his limbs, Mr. Yousif said.

That Iraqi refugees were willing to share painful memories such as these was a sign of their desperation. “This is an unmitigated disaster,” said Beasely, after a mob scene with a group of 50 refugees at the Assyrian Orthodox church in Amman.

”This is embarassing. It’s humiliating. Why should we be rattling cages to get the U.S. embassy to do its job?” he told Newsmax.

Murray was incensed when he asked for a show of hands and learned that 48 of the 50 refugees had relatives in the United States who were U.S. citizens.

After several phone calls to the chief of staff of a U.S. senator in Washington, Murray learned that these Iraqis should never have been told to go to the UNHCR in the first place, because they qualified automatically for immigration to the United States under normal family reunification procedures.

“The U.S. embassy is telling us things that just aren’t true,” he said, exasperated.









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Hundreds of you everyday come to this site because you are troubled about the suffering of the Iraqi Christians.

Your compassion is admirable but such concerns are of little help unless you are willing to assist these unfortunate people either by donating to the organizations which help them or by writing, calling or signing petitions asking the politicians to protect them.


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Teesheen II = November

Iraqi Christians Stranded in Jordan Nov. 2, 07

Iraq's Christians Face Extinction, Advocacy Group Says
Nov. 1, 07

Genocide researcher calls on Turks to push their government to Recognize genocide Nov. 1, 07

Tishreen I = October

Iraq’s vulnerable Christian minority gets promise of support
Oct. 31, 07

Over 200 British MPs recognize Armenian Genocide Oct. 30, 07

Assyrian poet Sargon Boulus dies at age 63 Oct. 30, 07

Two British Armenian Political Action Groups Acknowledge the Assyrian Genocide Oct. 22, 07

Rosie Malek-Yonan’s latest role in New Line Cinema’s Renditionn Oct. 22, 07

Iraqis who fled homes in fear face new terror as Turkey targets PKK rebels Oct. 21, 07

Iraqi Christians Spurned by U.N. Oct. 21, 07

The UN and the Assyrians of Iraq Oct. 19, 07

Air America Radio Program about the Christian Assyrians of Iraq
Oct. 19, 07

Bishop decries government's indifference to the Abduction of the Priests Oct. 18, 07

Assyria or Kurdistan? Oct. 18, 07

Patriarch Emmanuel Delly ordained as cardinal by the Pope Oct. 17, 07

The Assyrian and Armenian Genocides of 1915 Oct. 17, 07

Islam's Peace Offensive Oct. 16, 07

Heroes behind an epic Oct. 16, 07

Oct. 16, 07

Margareta Viklund replies to Nemrod Baitos accusations
Oct. 15, 07

Imperiled Christian family abandons its cherished homeland Oct. 14, 07

Pope urges Iraqi priests' release Oct. 14, 07

Two Assyrian Priests abducted in Mosul Oct. 13, 07

Muslim scholars in call for peace with Christians Oct. 11, 07

Iraq's Ex-oil Chief Accuses Kurds of Suspect Contract
Oct. 11, 07

Palestinians Crucify the Holy Land Oct. 11, 07

Assyrians killed in Mosul and Baghdad Oct. 10, 07

About the two women killed in Baghdad Oct. 10, 07

Archbishop tells of 'harrowing’ suffering of Iraqi refugees
Oct. 9, 07

Devastating Last Thoughts on Iraq Oct. 7, 07

Music pearls of Beth - Nahrin Oct. 4, 07

In Basra, vigilantes wage deadly campaign against women
Oct. 4, 07

George Malki excels, in soccer and in school. Oct. 3, 07

Who Committed the Yezidi Massacre in North Iraq? Oct. 3, 07

Bishops fear for future of Iraqi Christians Oct. 3, 07

Arabs quitting Iraq's Kirkuk Oct. 3, 07

The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh
Oct. 2, 07

Ealool = September

Binding up the wounds of war Sept. 30, 07

Iraqi Christians Forced to Flee Homes or Risk Death
Sept. 30, 07

Grand Opening of the Banipal Library in Teikeep Sept. 29, 07

A frightful car bomb explosion shakes the Assyrian town of Baghdeda Sept. 29, 07

Video- Assyriaska the Assyrian Soccer Team in Sweden
Sept. 29, 07

ABC News invites Christians of Iraq to be part of a news segment on an Iraqi translator Sept. 27, 07

U.S. withdrawal debate ignores Iraq refugee crisis Sept. 27, 07

Abducted Assyrian girl released after ransom was paid
Sept. 26, 07

Assyrian suffering overlooked in Iraq Sept. 25, 07

Old Trade Losing Its Foothold in Moscow Sept. 25, 07

Why I want to keep fighting in Iraq Sept. 25, 07

Muslim Intimidation Could Make 'Land of Jesus' Barren in 15 Years Sept. 23, 07

New artifacts discovered in al-Hasaka (Syria) from the neo Assyrian period Sept. 23, 07

Panelist Insults Assyrian Christians of Iraq! Sept. 23, 07

Elephants: the way to beat looters Sept. 23, 07

Armed gunmen loot Assyrian homes in Dora-Baghdad
Sept. 22, 07

Ethnic violence forces more Arabs to flee Iraq’s Kirkuk
Sept. 22, 07

Video - Iraqi Christians Search for Safe Haven Sept. 22, 07

CWS presses U.S. government to speed resettlement of Iraqi refugees Sept. 20, 07

Fleeing Saddam's Impending War Sept. 21, 07

Assyrians in Gen. Patraeus Testimony Before U.S. Senate
Sept. 19, 07

Sweden Offers Safe Haven to Iraqi Refugees Sept. 19, 07

Yonadem Kanna's Speech in Alqush Sept. 17, 07

UN adopts landmark resolution on rights of indigenous people
Sept. 15, 07

Time For The Truth! Who Speaks for Assyrians? Sept. 15, 07

Canada Broadcasting Company report About Assyrian refugee in Sweden Sept. 13, 07

Petreaus, Crocker Support Christian Assyrians in Iraq!
Sept. 13, 07

US Must Take Action on Iraq's Threatened Minorities
Sept. 12, 07

Iraqi Christians greet Muslims before Ramadan Sept. 12, 07

Islamic Terrorists Posing As Christians: Abusing Faith, Churches Sept. 12, 07

US Withdrawl may cause Slaughter of Iraqi Christians
Sept. 11, 07

U.S. Authorizes Funds for Refugees Sept. 11, 07

Rally this Friday and, Ashur TV Interview Sept. 11, 07

Iraqi Forces in Ninewah Province Continue Progress Sept.10, 07

Christians of Nineveh; A documentary Sept. 9, 07

Islam: a Plan for World Domination? Sept. 06, 07

USCIRF to Rice: US Must Address Threats to Religious Minorities in Iraq Sept. 06, 07

US Must Take Action on Iraq's Threatened Minorities
Sept. 06, 07

Wedding celebration in Iraq has a lot in common with American event Sept. 06, 07

Local Iraqis mourn demise of Christian churches in Iraq
Sept. 06, 07

The Assyrian Democratic Organization Celebrates its 50th Anniversary in Sweden Sept. 05, 07

Festival Offers Taste of Assyrian Culture Sept. 05, 07

Bush Sees Hope for Iraq's Future Sept. 04, 07

Mr. Bush Has Forsaken Iraq's Minorities Sept. 03, 07

Assessing the Wounds of an Ancient Assyrian Ruler
Sept. 02, 07

North Iraq fears pullout Sept. 02, 07

Defend the Persecuted Christian Minority in Iraq Sept. 2, 07

Tabokh = August

Under Siege: Iraq's Christians August 31, 07

The Iraqi refugees in Beirut who don’t officially exist
August 31, 07

Swedish Uproar After Turkish Threats to silence dialogue about the Assyrian Genocide August 29, 07

Iraq's Minorities Lose Out in Classroom August 29, 07

Tensions on Iraq-Turkey border send residents packing
August 29, 07

Iraq's Endangered Minorities August 27, 07

Mosul Christians in dire danger August 27, 07

U.S. Troops Must Not Withdraw, Say Iraqis August 26, 07

Just the Facts, in Words and Pictures August 24, 07

Kurdistan's Twin Towers: The Massacre of the Yazidi August 24, 07

UAT Instructor Creates Cuneiform and Hieroglyphic Translator August 24, 07

The Tale of Gilgamesh at The Ashby Stage August 24, 07

Iran: It Can Be Tough to Say Goodbye August 23, 07

Threats to Iraq’s Communities of Antiquity August 22, 07

The Plight of the Cristians in the Middle East August 21, 07

Crushing Iraq's human mosaic August 21, 07

Iraq's minorities face a rising threat August 20, 07

The situation in my country is tragic,” the man continued.
August 18, 07

Kirkuk poll seen unlikely on time August 18, 07

Wanton killing in Nineveh plains August 18, 07

Iraqi boy brought here for lifesaving surgery August 17, 07

Turkey's Dam will destroy Hasankeyf's unique heritage
August 16, 07

Video of beheading used to threaten Christians August 16, 07

Four suicide bombings kill 175 in Iraq August 14, 07

Controversy over a Mardin Assyrian monastery August 11, 07

Kurds Arrest Iraqis for Raising Iraqi Flag August 11, 07

Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis betrays his Anti
Assyrian Bias
August 10, 07

Jordan to Let 50,000 Iraqi Children Into Its Schools August 10, 07

Iraqi Kurdistan Faces Trouble on Two Fronts August 10, 07

Prayers for the suffering Assyrians in Iraq August 10, 07

NEWS ALERT: Withdrawal US Troops Could Lead To
"Extermination Iraqi Christians", Group Warns
August 9, 07

Gunmen in total control of major Baghdad district August 9, 07

Mosul Christian Community Dwindles August 7, 07

IRAQ Mosul, "focal point" of Wahabi extremism in Iraq August 5, 07

Solidarity, Commitment by the Austrian Ruling Party for
Recognition of the Assyrian Genocide
August 5, 07

Helping Iraqi refugees should be part and parcel | of fighting
August 3, 07

A deadly day in Baghdad August 3, 07

EWTN - Special television program on Christian of Iraq
August 3, 07

Iraqi Christians flee ancient roots for uncertain future in Beirut suburbs August 2, 07

Report on the International Association of Genocide Scholars Conference August 2, 07

Assyrian wins Sweden journalist award two years in a row August 1, 07

An Eastern Christian in the Capital of the Islamic Revolution
August 1, 07


June - July 07

May - April 07

February - March 07

December 06 - January 07

October, November 06

August, September 06

June, July 06
March April May 06
February 06
December05 Januray 06