Iraqi Christians Escape ISIS and Find Refuge in Lebanon

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Six months ago, the threats of the Islamic State started to affect Iraqi Christians, causing hundreds of them fled their homes and sought refuge either within the country or in other countries. Some of these families found refuge in Lebanon.

Sed el Baouchriye is an area in the northern suburbs of Beirut that is home to large Chaldean, Assyrian and Syriac lebanese communities. This is where the Iraqi refugees settled.

This video is about the situation of Iraqi Christians in Lebanon six months after they fled their country. It explores how they live and who takes care of them. The video also includes an interview with Father Sarkoun Zoumaya, the archdiocese of St. Georges Assyrian Church in Sed el Baouchriye, explaining the current situation of the Iraqi refugees in Lebanon.

1 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Iraqi Refugee, Khanem Shaker Kina

(00:00) My children are staying without education. They have done more than enough to us in Lebanon, but life is difficult. Rent is expensive; we have no one to help us. We will not go back to Iraq. we were not happy there, so we will return (00:35) UNINTELLIGIBLE UNTIL 00:53.

2 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Iraqi Refugee, Imad

(00:54) We were displaced from our home country Iraq and we went to Turkey, but we found difficulties in living. My family is Christian and we did not pray or practice our beliefs. So we decided to come to Lebanon, and we thank the Lebanese government for receiving us and we are very happy now, at least we can pray. On Sunday we go to the mass and, we meet our Iraqi friends. Everybody is happy. We miss Iraq, of course. It is our country… our Assyrian heritage and culture, our Iraqi Christianity… We do not devote time to send a message to the Western countries, but if they can help in any way, help us move to another country, we cannot live anymore in Iraq. Iraq is dangerous now. There is no discrimination, my family and are very happy in Lebanon. I see my friends, we drink coffee all together. I met some new people too, some of them are Lebanese and they treat us very well. We are very happy in Lebanon (02:45).

3 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Iraqi Refugee

(00:46) I need to travel to Europe. I need to apply for a visa. We are not very happy here. I have some Iraqi friends in Sed al Baouchriye but I do not work at the moment, I want to work but I cannot find a job. Hope? Yes, everything is fine. I am happy in Lebanon but my situation is not very good, my health situation. There is no hope in going back to Iraq. There is no life in Iraq with the robbery, killing, bombing and ISIS.. (03:38).

4 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Priest, Sarkoun Zoumaya

(03:39) The majority of the people are not working. Lebanon has taken in too much workers and too much people, and cannot find jobs for the new comers. Lebanon provides a temporary refuge, for a year or two. They [Iraqi Refugees] have submitted their papers for foreign countries either through the United Nations or through a sponsor such as a brother, sister or father in Australia, United States or Canada, they are waiting to leave. Every day, one, two families or five families leave. The adaptation is becoming difficult now, especially when a stranger comes here, he needs more time to adapt with the situations here. The West is not trying to protect the Christians while in their homeland, so there is some unclear concerning this migration issue: Do they want a Middle East without Christians, while our heritage is 2,000 or 3,000 years old? We have more than 120 children that we are helping in their education in the school, and if we do not get aid, the school will close in one moth or two. We cannot carry all of this burden alone. We are helping 120 children in our church by giving them clothes. We are also helping them by paying their school fees, but if we do not receive any aid from the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Social Affairs or the NGOs… They are specialised in humanitarian care. They should show mercy towards these refugees so that they can live like other human beings (05:57).

5 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Iraqi Refugee, Julius

(05:57) No one helped me. I brought money [from Iraq] but now I do not have much. No one hired me, they say I am old. My son is handicapped. I used to go to the church, they used to help me there. Caritas helped me only once ever since I came from Iraq. I want the United Nations to help me… to help me get out of Lebanon (06:41).

Various of Iraqi refugee father teaching prayers to two young girls

Various of men praying at church

Various of house interior

Various of Iraq woman working at home

M/S of house from outside

Various of streets

Various of Iraqi families at home