Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Iraqi Christians Stranded in
Monday, October 22, 2007 9:59
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
Don’t miss Ken’s new thriller, Honor Killing, about Iran, the bomb, and
the terrorists living among us. Www.kentimmerman.com/honor-killing.html
Amman, Jordan - The United States embassy is 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
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
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
“We don’t do refugee interviews,” a consular official of Arab descent
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
“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
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
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
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”
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
“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.
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
“The U.S. embassy is telling us things that just aren’t true,” he said,
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