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WikiLeaks: 2008-07-06: 08AMMAN1989: Iraqi Religious Minorities in Jordan Face Similar Difficulties Ties as Fellow Iraqis; Most Unlikely to Return Home Anytime Soon

by WikiLeaks. 08AMMAN1989: July 06, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 03:00 PM UT


Viewing cable 08AMMAN1989, IRAQI RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN JORDAN FACE SIMILAR

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08AMMAN1989 2008-07-06 08:29 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Amman
VZCZCXRO0369
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAM #1989/01 1880829
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060829Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2995
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 001989 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR NEA/ELA, NEA/I, PRM/ANE, DRL, S/I 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREF KIRF PHUM SOCI JO IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQI RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN JORDAN FACE SIMILAR 
DIFFICULTIES AS FELLOW IRAQIS; MOST UNLIKELY TO RETURN HOME 
ANYTIME SOON 
 
Not for internet distribution.  Please protect accordingly. 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary: Iraqis residing in Jordan representing the 
Chaldean, Assyrian, Sabean, and Yezidi communities claim to 
be targets of discrimination and attacks in Iraq and do not 
envision ever being able to return safely to Iraq.  They 
report financial and personal difficulties while residing in 
Jordan, usually illegally, but no particular harassment or 
fears of physical harm.  End summary. 
 
Complaints about UNHCR But Few Details 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) Beginning in November 2007, as part of an ongoing 
strategic outreach effort, Emboffs  have met with 
approximately 400 Iraqi Christians and their leaders 
currently residing in Jordan, in order to learn more about 
the experiences in Iraq that drove them to leave, as well as 
their current living conditions in Jordan.  Iraqi Christians 
were often eager to meet with Embassy officials whom they 
perceived as well-positioned to facilitate their interactions 
with UNHCR and increase the likelihood of resettlement. 
 
3.  (SBU) The Ambassador and EmbOffs met several times over 
the last six months with Chaldean priest Fr. Raymond 
al-Moussali and over 60 Iraqi members of his parish, nearly 
all of whom were registered as &asylum seekers8 with UNHCR. 
 Moussali reported that his parish includes over 10,000 Iraqi 
refugees, and he holds four different services each week in 
Amman and outlying areas.  Most of the Iraqi parishioners 
were well-informed of UNHCR/IOM resettlement procedures. 
Many, however, shared assertions of mistreatment or bias at 
the hands of UNHCR officials.  When asked for further detail, 
few could substantiate their claims.  Nevertheless, Emboffs 
relayed concerns to UNHCR offices in each case, which 
promised to investigate any such allegations.  UNHCR reported 
plans to conduct a separate community outreach program that 
would include religious groups, and has since confirmed that 
its first session took place in mid-June.  UNHCR Resident 
Representative Imran Riza noted that UNHCR understood the 
need to reach out to religious minority communities, but 
wanted to avoid accusations of bias that could arise from 
singling out specific groups for special treatment or 
attention. 
 
Reports of Targeted Attacks on Christians in Iraq 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
4.  (SBU) All the Iraqi Christians met reportedly departed 
Iraq after being specifically targeted for threats of 
physical violence against themselves and family members. 
Stories of oppression in Iraq ranged from merely verbal or 
written (telephone threats or notes posted to their doors at 
night), to severe (actual kidnappings and/or murder of family 
members), to the extreme (stories often passed third or 
fourth-hand of alleged horrific acts by extremists or 
militias, such as cannibalism of kidnapped victims).  Many 
described specific instances of harassment based on religious 
beliefs.  Sabean-Mandeans noted that they often ran gold and 
jewelry shops that were targeted by insurgents who viewed 
them as easy targets with no defense.  Sabeans explained to 
EmbOffs that insurgents looted their stores, telling their 
victims to convert or be killed.  Some Iraqi Christians who 
ran distilleries or sold alcohol in Iraq faced similar 
discriminations by religious zealots who targeted them for 
activities deemed to be un-Islamic. 
 
Life in Jordan ) Better, But Still Difficult 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Complaints by Iraqi Christians have been similar to 
those expressed by the broader population of Iraqis in Jordan 
) increasing poverty, the lack of permanent status, the 
inability to legally work, the fear of discovery and 
deportation by authorities, and general distrust of 
government officials.  The Sabean-Mandeans, additionally, 
described isolated instances of misunderstandings or 
mistreatment by Muslims, although none complained of outward 
harassment or fear of physical danger while they have resided 
in Jordan. 
 
No Return to Iraq Envisioned 
---------------------------- 
 
6.  (SBU) EmbOffs have not yet encountered anyone among these 
Iraqi religious minorities who say they envision returning 
home to Iraq during their lifetimes.  All looked westward for 
their future, hoping for resettlement in the U.S. or a third 
 
AMMAN 00001989  002 OF 002 
 
 
country, where many reported already having family members. 
 
7.  (SBU) Comment: Iraqi religious minority residents, 
concerns are generally similar to the concerns expressed by 
the broader population of Iraqis in Jordan ) poverty, 
inability to work, and the fear of discovery and deportation 
by authorities.  In addition, Iraqi Christians show 
themselves just as susceptible as the broader refugee 
population to the vagaries of 3rd- or 4th-hand rumors and 
&news8 affecting their lives, whether regarding the 
situation on the ground in Iraq or perceptions of Jordanian 
government or UN attitudes.  Regardless of the genuine 
efforts and real progress made in many of these areas, and 
the need for further progress, engagement with this 
population will have to continue to directly address the 
combination of misinformation and legitimate fear that 
pervades the refugee community and will surely affect 
decisions regarding whether to return home to Iraq or remain 
in Jordan. 
 
Visit Amman's Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman 
 
Rubinstein

 



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