Sunday, August 06, 2006

Iraqi Christians And The Dark Future

I'm always asked how many Iraqi Christians lived in Iraq before the American invasion and how many of them still live in Iraq. Chaldean Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Andreos Abouna of Baghdad has the answer. Catholic News Service reports:

LONDON (CNS): Half of all Iraqi Christians have fled their country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, said the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad.

Chaldean Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Andreos Abouna of Baghdad said that before the invasion there were about 1.2 million Christians in the predominantly Shiite Muslim state. Since then the overall number has dropped to about 600,000, he said.

"What we are hearing now is the alarm bell for Christianity in Iraq," the bishop said. "When so many are leaving from a small community like ours, you know that it is dangerous - dangerous for the future of the church in Iraq."
[...]
He added that many Christians remaining in Iraq were either too poor, old or sick to leave....

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If my relatives are any indication of how many Iraqi Christians will stay in Iraq in the near future, I'd say NOT many families.

Leaving the country isn't always the hardest step. Trying to find a refuge in another country proves to be the hardest step in establishing their new lives.

Last June, I wrote that an estimated 6,000 Iraqi Christians live in Lebanon. Now that all hell broke between Israel and Hizbollah, that haven has become hell for those refugees. According to IRIN, some of these families have returned to Iraq:

BAGHDAD, 31 July (IRIN) - Dozens of Iraqis who fled Lebanon after the Israeli offensive began on 12 July have now reached the Iraqi capital, Baghdad and urgently need assistance, Iraqi officials said.

"They [the Iraqis] have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty," said Diyar Salushi, a senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
[...]
"I thank Lebanon for helping us during the three years that I was there with my family," said Carlo Yacari, 42, an Iraqi Christian who was living in Beirut. "But we cannot tolerate more destruction and violence, and we now will work hard to leave to a European country where at least we will be far from the sounds of explosions and bombardments."

Read more...

I don't think Europe is going to accept many Iraqi-Christian refugees. It's not as easy as they might think. Ankawa Online's correspondent in Germany reports that a German court ruled in favor of the foreign and political refugees office to deport all Iraqi-Christian refugees from Germany. The court ruled that those refugees don't have the legal right to stay in Germany. The judge believes Iraqi Christians who face danger in parts of Iraq can move to Kurdistan where Kurds and Iraqi Christians maintain a good relationship. Nice logic judge!!!

Other countries are not more welcoming than Germany. So what's the solution for this minority when faced with such rejection? Absolutely NOTHING. We were always told by our clergymen in Iraq to pray during difficult times. We continue to pray. I sometimes think God is tired of our prayers, or he doesn't live in Iraq anymore.

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