Thousands of Iraqi Christians Looking Beyond Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria, AUG. 25, 2004 ( Fleeing their violent homeland, thousands of Iraqi Christians have found temporary residence in Syria, many of them hoping to emigrate to other countries.

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Agence France-Presse reported today that Syria has accepted some 30,000 Iraqi Christians. Many live in poor and deteriorated houses in towns such as Jaramana, 6 kilometers from Damascus.

The vast majority of emigrants have no work; they live on savings and financial help sent by exiled relatives in the West. Some would have liked to have gone to Jordan, but found difficulty in obtaining entry permits, AFP reported.

The majority of the refugees would prefer to emigrate to Canada or Australia.

Although Saddam Hussein’s regime and the war and violence of the past year had forced members of the Christian minority to leave the country, the present exodus became more intense in early August, when churches in Iraq were attacked, leaving 10 dead.

Pascale Isho Warda, Iraqi minister for displacement and migration, said that in the wake of the attacks, 40,000 Iraqi Christians have left the country, but she gave no details about the countries of destiny.

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