Iraqi Christians who fled ISIS living in limbo while in exile

A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won’t go back to Iraq, saying it’s not safe for Christians, but as refugees they’re barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.


“We’ve lost hope in everything,” said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. “We’ve been sitting here for a year and nothing’s happened.”


About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.


On Saturday evening, Patriarch Louis Sako of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church and Jerusalem-based Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal led hundreds of worshippers in an outdoor prayer service in the town of Fuheis, near Amman, to mark a year since the Iraqi Christians’ displacement.


The service included a message of encouragement from Pope Francis, saying he is appealing for solidarity with those victimized by fanaticism and intolerance, “often under the eyes and in the silence of all.” The church “does not forget and does not abandon her children who have been exiled on account of their faith,” read the message, first published late last week.


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