07/15/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Iranian Christians seeking asylum in Turkey are forced into a stagnant and debilitating reality. This is the testimony of Iman Ghaznavian Haghighi, an Iranian Christian who sought asylum in Turkey in 2013 at age 27, and remains there today, now in his late 30s. In a conversation with Article 18, he explained that over the last nearly a decade that he has spent in Turkey, he has been perpetually frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to him in the country. Refugees in Turkey have no right to work but also receive virtually no assistance from the government. This places refugees in highly unstable and vulnerable circumstances. Many are exploited by “off-the-books” employers who take advantage of their lack of legal status. Iman explained, “The Turkish government gives you an ID card, but it’s just a piece of paper, and you are even shy to show it to anybody. You cannot even rent an apartment. You cannot do anything – no bank account, nothing.” Iman estimates that there are 500-600 Iranian Christians just like him who must deal with these insurmountable obstacles. Some, he lamented, have lost hope to such a degree that they have resorted to committing suicide.
As the plight of Iranian Christian refugees in Turkey continues to drag on, public sentiment in the country has grown increasingly opposed to refugees. The Turkish government is unlikely to improve its support for this small group, so refugees like Iman look outward and hope that assistance might come from another source. Many have waited years for approval to move to another country, such as Canada. Iman is in the final stages of the extensive process required to secure resettlement from Turkey to Canada. But Iman also hopes that another body, the global Christian church, might recognize the plight of Iranian Christian refugees and take action to help. He pleaded, “It’s not difficult for all Christians [in the world]. We just need 500 families willing to help 500 people. That’s it!” Both other nations, such as Canada and the US, and Christian organizations representing the global church do have the power to help these Christians. For now, though, all refugees like Iman can do is wait.
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