A safe haven for Iraqi Christians in Damascus

by Wamith Al-Kassab (Iraq)
June 19th, 20100 Comments The history of Christianity in Iraq dates back to the first century BC. But after the U.S. invasion in 2003, many Christians fled their homeland and have found refuge in Syria.

Christianity in Iraq is threatened with extinction. Before the war broke out in 2003, lived about 880,000 Chaldeans in Iraq and more than half a million other Christians in relatively stable conditions. As doctors or engineers, they were highly regarded in society, provided they expressed no criticism of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, their number will have halved.

Support and assistance in Damascus

But has helped just one man, the thousands of Iraqi refugees, Christians now makes courage to stay: Father Farid Botros of the Chaldean Church in Damascus in a German documentary . would find from Iraq fleeing Christians in Syria the necessary help, the minister said in his parish house in the neighborhood of Bab Touma: “More than 2,000 families in Damascus for help from us. They come mainly from the edge of the city neighborhoods Jaramana, Saida Zeinab and Maskin Berzah. “
“We have organized for Iraqi refugees in Syria, a lot of utilities. 2009 twenty doctors have worked for us,” he explains. “Here in Bab Touma, there is a neighborhood center and a device for people who have come from Iraq, providing humanitarian and medical assistance. We are also handicapped children to the side
St. Thomas brought in the first century AD, Christianity in Iraq. As an offshoot of the Catholic church was built near the religious community of Chaldeans in the first region of Mesopotamia between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, where Iraq is today. Whatever it was, after a 1551 dispute over the succession in office of the patriarch with the Catholic Church had fallen out with him. The fragile balance of social and community groups in Iraq in early 2006 became permanently out of joint, after which the land in 2006 and 2007 was rocked by a series of attacks which brought it to the brink of civil war. Although the Iraqi government promised to protect the Christian minority in the country, an important number of Chaldean church leaders in Iraq were kidnapped and murdered. Mosul, once a city with a thriving Christian population, now sinking into violence and chaos.

On 29 February 2008 was abducted Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, after he had read the Mass in Mosul. Two weeks later, on 13 March, was dead in a shallow grave on the outskirts found his. In June of last year were his Father Ragheed and three subdeacons secretary already been murdered: attacks that are clearly directed against the Christian community. The destruction of ethnic diversity is perhaps the worst impact of the Iraq war has had on the.1987, when the last official survey, 1.4 million Christians lived in the country. A report by the U.S. State Department religious freedom, according to worldwide, there were only 2008 550000-800000 Christians there. Since then the number has probably fallen further.

After the attacks had many Muslim leaders in Iraq expressed its solidarity with the Christian community to express and promised to help, more Christians who are looking for our help center in Syria , but there were also Muslims already there. They all need support n Damascus, the Chaldean Church has for about five hundred children and youth religious education at Sunday from the Iraqi refugees who come to hundreds of thousands across the border many want to continue to a Western country to settle and the Middle East back on the return – the wish for the most people flee from Iraq – not just the Christians. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Damascus, reported last year, only 1179 people would have in October 2008 initiated, voluntary returnees reported for the program. Evidently the people of Iraq not so sure that there did they return. According to the United Nations in Damascus, Syria, the percentage of Christians among the refugees in particularly high.

The political conflicts will pose to the security and stability of Iraq probably remain a major challenge.