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Caritas Jordan Welcomes Iraqi Refugees

Current Situation:

The US army left Iraq in 2011 with no clear strategy or solid security measurements that were likely to safeguard the “Democratic gains” that Iraqis aspired to achieve as a result of toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime. Evidently, Shite-led Iraqi former government did not learn from the sectarian strife that marginalized one sect at the expense of other.
As a result, Iraq has become a sectarian and ethnically divided country, where Sunni Kurds are controlling the northern part, whereas Shiite majority are dominating the southern part of the country, amid severe deterioration of security and political rifts.

Civilians, especially minorities groups had to pay a dear price for the political, ethnic and sectarian conflicts. Sunnis in the northern areas of Iraq feel marginalized and underserved, lack basic public services, civil and political rights, which triggered an outcry against the government. Kurds are not in good terms with the central government in Baghdad over economic resources and power. Such conflicts paved the way for the incursion of Islamic hardliners who swiftly took over large swathes of the northern Iraqi territories and forcibly imposed their strict version of Islam, replicating a same scenario in Syria. Their domination and spill over to other areas of Iraq has driven thousands of minority groups to flee their homes and lands where they have long-lived and significantly participated in its historic heritage and culture.

This political vacuum allowed the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh to purge minority Christians and Yazidis and make them flee to the Kurdish territories and Nineva valley, as well as towards the Mount Sinjar bordering area with Turkey, where they suffer hunger and harsh living conditions and receive relief aid dropped by US helicopters and planes. Despite many air raids carried out by US war planes, no tangible results have been achieved on the ground; the displaced families are still fleeing their territories, where fear and hunger prevail.

Christians have been given tough choices: live under threats to convert to Islam, pay Jizzieh (money for protection) or get killed.
Christians have become displaced; seek protection and resettlement in other countries. Despite France’s generous bid to receive them in its territories, it is unlikely that all will be able to go there, thus other countries are supposed to shoulder this responsibility, receive and assist persecuted categories of people whose movable and immovable properties have been confiscated, and they had to leave empty handed. Even monks and clergymen were prevented from carrying any religious manuscripts from their monasteries or belongings during their flight.

Jordan Response:

This response came after Jordan’s Monarch voiced his support and sympathy with those persecuted groups, condemned Daesh violent acts that have nothing to do with Islam.
The king called for an international conference, held in Amman last year, to discuss the challenges that Arab Christians encounter and stressed the need to preserve the Arab Christian identity.

The visit of his Holiness the Pope highlighted the centric role of Jordan, a country that maintains religious harmony and the King’s positive and active role in safeguarding this unique relationship.

Jordan has adopted “The Amman Message”, a guiding document proposed by the King. It is considered a cornerstone that governs unique relationships and a tolerant Jordan’s interfaith co-existence atmosphere. This message draws a roadmap on how Christians and Muslims should live together, promote and cherish the concept of sharing and enhance mutual giving through dialogue. This message has shaped a framework of noble initiatives that are likely to serve humanity and advocate the cause of needy and underserved categories of people.

Under this initiative, Caritas is translating this vision into effective and remarkable deeds by responding to medical and psychological conditions of people in need, as its Centers are implementing many programs and activities that demonstrate solidarity with the neediest groups regardless of faith, ethnic group, skin color, gender, political opinion or any type of discrimination.

Caritas Jordan Intervention:

Caritas Jordan has positively responded to the international efforts to save the minorities in Iraq and shoulder its humanitarian responsibilities towards them by receiving some 1000 Christians and provide them with all essentials in Jordan.
Caritas which has expressed its readiness to lend a hand to the government, ferry them from Erbil airport and host them in 10 locations in Jordan, provide them with appropriate Shelter, wash, food and non-food items, as well as other basic needs, according to Sphere standards.

This contingency plan started after all needed arrangements are made, in cooperation with the Reception Centers and the consent of the Jordanian Government.

Caritas has made agreements with the local churches to utilize 10 parishes and convents facilities to receive the displaced Christians. The Centers are scattered in many areas of Jordan, where Iraqis will be hosted, receive full accommodation, relief aid and all care and attention.

Furthermore, Caritas will provide daily meals, psychosocial activities for children and parents, group discussions, medical services, along with recreational activities, conduct visits and perform prayers.

Meanwhile, Caritas coordinated with the Royal Jordanian airlines to ferry them to Jordan at Caritas expense, which covered the air tickets from Erbil to Amman. It has also provided transportation to the displaced Iraqi families upon their arrival to Amman airport to Caritas partner Centers, before they were hosted in the intended Centers.


Reasons behind Christian movements:

Iraq is a country that combines many ethnic groups and sects, which form mosaic diversity. Despite a history that had seen series of military coups and power conflicts and wars, Iraqis of all origins and sects have relatively long lived in peace and harmony, shared political, social and economic concerns and gains.

The involvement of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), before changing its name to Islamic State in Iraqi and Syria (ISIS) then to Islamic State (IS) in the fighting against the regime, has made some of the northern Sunni dominated Governorates of Al Anbar, Mosul, Nineva, Salahudin and Tikrit political and tribal figures fight with IS against the regime, killing thousands, seizing northern cities and forcing others to flee their homes to other areas of Iraq and to neighboring countries including Jordan.

Islamic State (IS), or better known in Arabic acronym as Daesh, started its violent activities in Syria and swiftly extended its power in Iraq, routing Iraqi Shiite- led government troops from most of the Iraqi northern areas and big cities, taking over their posts and weapons and looting banks and properties, with an ambition to reach southern areas and extend its Caliphate which was declared by their leader Abu Baker Al Baghdadi, a move never recognized by any country or religious bodies.

The imposing of the Islamic strict rules against minority groups such as Christians, Yazidis, Shiite, Shabak, Kurds and others has driven thousands from their hometowns seeking safety and security.


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