ICC Note: Leaders of Churches in Syria and Iraq are urging their people not to leave their homelands but to find ways to stay despite the incredible risks and hardships. While Christians have faced incredible attacks, kidnappings, destruction of homes, and more, many are finding ways to remain in the region rather than join the tide of thousands heading to Europe to find refuge.
09/24/2015 Middle East (VOA) – Most refugees from Iraq and Syria who are seeking resettlement in Europe are Muslims, but an estimated 10 percent are from religious minorities, adding to fears that both countries could be witnessing the death knell of once-thriving Christian and Yazidi communities.
While there is increasing clamor in Europe and Australia and among Christian evangelicals in the United States for Christian refugees to be given priority for resettlement, Syrian and Iraqi bishops are urging Western countries not to encourage Christian emigration from their war-torn countries, fearing the annihilation of communities that can trace their origins back to the first and second centuries.
And the bishops have been pleading with their parishioners to stay.
The leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad recently warned Christian relief organizations to restrain themselves from encouraging the emigration, saying it might lead to the entire Middle East being emptied of Christians.
The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Raphael I, said, ”Any declaration that may incite our people to emigrate is irresponsible at this time.”
He was echoing a plea made earlier this month by a senior Catholic prelate in Syria, who urged young Syrian Christians not to join the growing exodus to Europe.