Saturday, February 18, 2012


To say Syria is a bit chaotic would be an understatement. I cant tell you what the conditions are on the ground, or what the state of the Syrian government is. I can’t tell you what Syrian citizens think. I can tell you that for the second time in recent weeks the US embassy in Damascus is closed. My concern and focus now is not the Syrians but the Iraq’s in Syria and their family members here in the US. With Syria in an uprising the already slowed and dwindling processing of Iraqi refugees out of Syria has stopped.

Imagine feeling your country. Instability, violence, death threats have forced you to seek safety. Well now that safety is marginal at best for the thousands upon thousands of refugees in Syria. Some have been there for years, waiting for their turn in line to be resettled to countries like the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada and the US. Do you leave? Do you flee to Jordan or Lebanon? If you go do you loose your spot in line having to be added behind the other refugees already there waiting for years? You can’t work and the money given to you by the Syrian government is not enough. Your family that has already been resettled abroad sends what little money they can but you know they struggle in their new home. Money is tight even in a safe country.

What do you tell your loved ones in Syria? Stay? Go? You go regularly to the resettlement agency that helped you. They are sympathetic but continually deliver the same hard line. They can’t help. They can tell you that security checks need to be all current. That your loved one has all but one just expired so best they do it again. By the time one is done again another expires. So on it goes, as everyone waits for the US embassy to open again, for processing to resume and families to be reunited.

That might be what you would feel and think. Last night I stood in a room with over 200 angry, tired, and worried families from Iraq. They held immigration documents in their hands like they were golden tickets and the only life line they have to family in Syria. And that’s because they are. What we wanted to do was say we’ll fix it. They will come soon. You wont have to worry about their safety. What we said was, we have no idea how long it could be and we cant do much about it. Believe me when I say we hate saying that as much as they hate hearing it.


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