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Chaldean Refugees Arrive in Germany
By Sabah Hajjar :: Monday, March 23, 2009 :: 26704 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

GERMANY - Germany has long fought for the protection of war refugees and has taken their cases to the EU on numerous occasions.  Germany has agreed to resettle 2,500 Iraqi refugees, said the Amman office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday, March 10, adding that 2,000 would come from Syria and 500 from Jordan.
 
The first batch of refugees will be soon leaving Jordan for resettlement in Germany, Dana Bajjali, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR office in Amman told DPA news agency without indicating the precise date of their departure. Around 120 Christian refugees from Iraq arrived in Germany on Thursday in search of a better and safer future away from the turmoil of their home country.
 
Amnesty International's Julia Duchrow explains that the successful asylum applicants have a clean criminal record and can not have been members of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's Baath party.  Single mothers, those suffering from post-traumatic stress and people with ties to Germany also had a greater chance of having their application for asylum approved, she added. 

Christians in Iraq have faced severe persecution following the invasion of Iraq six years ago. They are often targeted by Islamic militants or criminals who regard them as being in league with occupation forces. It is often also assumed that Christians have rich relatives in the West and as a result they are often targeted for kidnappings in order to get large ransoms.

There are currently around two million refugees from Iraq living in Jordan and Syria. An Iraqi minister previously said that Iraqi Christians should remain in the country to to help rebuild in spite of the frequent attacks by Islamic extremists and criminals.

Last year, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and murdered by al-Qaeda. In October 15,000 Christians fled the city of Mosul after a spate of murders were committed against Christians. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees said Iraqis accounted for around one third of asylum applications received since the start of 2009.  Nearly half of all refugees leaving Iraq are Christian, even though Christianity is the religion of only three per cent of Iraqis.

About 2.2 million Iraqis fled their homes after the US-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003. In addition to the presence of foreign troops, the war sparked sectarian violence between Sunnis and the Iran-backed Shiite Muslims.

Many of the refugees who arrived at Hanover airport were single mothers and their children as well as a number of sick people. One child was quickly taken away to receive medical attention, reports the International Herald Tribune.

The EU has pledged to take in around 10,000 refugees from Iraq, many of whom are Christians or from other religious minorities. Germany is expected to take in 2,500 people. The UK, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have also pledged to accept refugees.

Last week a senior Swedish official urged other European nations to take in more Iraqi refugees, saying that Sweden will put the matter on its agenda when it assumes the six month EU presidency in July.

The United States on the other hand had admitted only 1,200 refugees in 2007, but has since opened its doors to over 12,000 asylum seekers, following criticism from the EU and international refugee organizations.