ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Hundreds of Christian families who fled the threat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria remain uncertain of their futures as they wait for an opportunity to live a better life abroad.
At the height of the years-long Syrian civil war coupled with the 2014 emergence of the Islamic State, thousands of Christians in the war-torn country fled to neighboring regions, including the Kurdistan Region.
Most of the Christian refugees live in the Ankawa district, considered the largest Christian-populated area in the region, located in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil. Although they are cared for by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the refugees say they want the international community and the United Nations to help them resettle abroad.
“We sold our homes and property and came to Erbil to seek immigration, but some of our requests have been rejected,” Shadi Mousa, a Christian refugee, told Kurdistan 24.
Mousa appealed to the international community and humanitarian organizations to look into their requests and consider their suffering. He says he wants to take his family to Australia or Canada where many other Christian refugees have resettled.
Sonia Arquillo, another Christian refugee, said her family has been waiting for a response to their immigration application for 11 months. “We do not know what our fate is; it is not fair,” she told Kurdistan 24.
Although the families praised the coexistence and religious freedom in the Kurdistan Region, they said they are eager to move abroad to provide more opportunities for their children.
According to the families, since 2016, the requests of 200 Syrian Christian families have been accepted while 600 others continue to wait as they reside in Erbil.
(Additional reporting by Zardasht Hami)