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Chaldeans Worry Over UN Altercation of Iraq Refugee Guidelines
By Huda Metti :: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 :: 42789 Views :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

California, USA – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week revised its guidelines about Iraqi refugees, scaling down the categories of Iraqis that it says should be granted asylum in all cases.  Central Iraq remains unstable, and refugees from those provinces should be granted asylum, the UNHCR said. Those provinces include Baghdad, Diyala and Ninevah.

Andrew Harper, who leads the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees operation in Iraq, says Chaldeans and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq should receive asylum from Western countries. 

Harper emphasized that Iraq is in a tenuous position as the United States reduces its presence in the country. He said Iraqis don't want a permanent U.S. presence, but acknowledge that the "surge" of American forces in 2008 actually yielded considerable security gains.  Those gains are at risk if the Obama administration removes security forces from the country.  Chaldean leaders feel the vacuum would create a civil war with Iraqi Christians targeted by all sides.

Reports show that the 310,000 Iraqi refugees have registered for resettlement under the United Nations.  Chaldean Christians make up between 2 and 3 percent of Iraq's population, but represent 10 to 15 percent of the Iraqi refugees who have registered for resettlement.  "Minorities are overrepresented in our registration because they do not see the potential to return to Iraq," Harper said.

Harper said some refugees are beginning to return to Iraq. About 1.5 million Iraqi refugees displaced by the war are believed to be living in Syria and Jordan. Another 1.6 million likely are displaced from their homes inside Iraq.

Security has improved enough in Iraq's southern provinces and the western province of Al Anbar for countries to consider refugee applications from those areas on an individual basis rather than with a blanket recommendation from the United Nations to accept the asylum seekers. Previously, only Iraq's northern provinces were considered safe enough for some refugees to have the requests for asylum denied.

That said, the UNHCR contends minorities, single women, political activists and Iraqis who have worked for Western countries should be granted asylum because they face discrimination or persecution in Iraq.

Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA

 

Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.