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Christian Emigration Report: Lebanon and Syria

Sudanese Refugees
According to Father Shelhot from Caritas, there are 50 Sudanese on average that enter Syria per year. Now there are 1,000 Sudanese in Syria of which 90 percent are Christians. Individuals rather than families emigrate from their country. They enter Syria without problems because they do not need a visa. Recently, the Sudanese Government asked the Syrian Government to provide them with residency papers or to repatriate them. The conditions required in order to obtain these residency papers are very difficult. The majority prefers to go to prison rather than return to their home country because of their fear of war.

  • The Iraqi Refugees
    According to Msgr. Audo, in the early ’90s there were 500 Christian families living in El Hol (El Jazira). The Chaldean Church helps them a great deal. Instead of tents, the Church has constructed small houses for them; they are also provided with food, medications and other basic essentials. Currently, only 50 families remain, 20 in Damascus and 30 in Aleppo and El Jazira. The remaining number left the country for Australia, Sweden and New Zealand. The movement of Iraqis into Syria continues but it is highly related to the requests for visas toward foreign countries. Syria, like Lebanon, also seems to be a transitory country.

  • The Palestinian Refugees
    They are roughly 375,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria. Their situation is much better than those living in Lebanon. They have the right to live just as all Syrian citizens, with access to schools, medical care, social security, etc.

  • C. Who takes care of the immigrants?

    1. UNRWA
      The Palestinian refugees fall under the mandate of the UNRWA.

    2. UNHCR
      UNHCR is providing international protection to recognized refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic. Basic assistance is provided for some 5,000 refugees on the basis of individual need assessment. Assistance includes monthly subsistence allowances, basic health care, primary education or vocational training. While resettlement to third countries is an option for some qualified refugees, voluntary repatriation is also pursued for those willing to return to their countries of origin. UNHCR Damascus, through its local partner, continues to provide special services for refugee women. This assistance includes training on various health issues such as pregnancy, family planning and prevention of AIDS.

    3. IOM (International Organization for Migration)
      IOM was established as an intergovernmental body outside the United Nations system in the aftermath of World War II with the primary aim of helping to reduce population pressures in Europe through emigration. Today the organization promotes orderly migration in over 115 Member or Observer States worldwide.

      From Syria, in 1999 IOM assisted in the release of 890 refugees to the United States, 185 to Canada, 85 to Australia, 2010 to Scandinavian countries and 500 to other countries. Numbers processed by IOM in 2000 are 765 to the United States, 260 to Canada, 1100 to Scandinavian countries and 300 to other countries.

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