This is Michael and Theresa, an elderly Christian couple originally from Mosul. When ISIS came, they fled to Jordan with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Theresa was very sick but with your support they are surviving. They have been in Jordan for nearly three years now waiting for their asylum applications to Canada and America to be processed. The interview was conducted by our team on the ground in Amman:
FRRME: “Why did you leave Iraq?”
Michael: “In Mosul I had a restaurant but they blew it up because I am Christian. This happened in August 2008. After that, I went back to my home town of Qaraqosh which was a safe city. But when ISIS came there in 2014 I left everything and went to Jordan. I came to Jordan in July that year.”
FRRME: “What happened in Qaraqosh?”
Michael: “I remember the day – Wednesday 25 June 2014 -ISIS attacked the city. My wife and I left immediately and went to Erbil where we stayed for one week. My wife was very sick and we had to go to Jordan to get treatment for her. We thought we could go back to Qaraqosh after the treatment but ISIS had taken over the city completely. We have lost everything, including the restaurant. There is no safe place in Iraq for Christians now.”
FRRME: “Did you manage to bring anything with you? Any money?”
Michael: “I was due a retirement pension in Iraq, but I did not receive it because I am a Christian. Many Iraqis that had savings in the bank were unable to withdraw money from their bank accounts after they left. The bank would not allow us to withdraw the money. We have lost our life savings”
FRRME: “What is life like in Jordan? How have things changed for you?”
Michael: “If we had not met FRRME we would probably have no choice but to go back to Iraq because there is no work here in Jordan even though it is safe. We are too old to work now but FRRME is giving rent for us and help with food packages and food coupons.”
FRRME: “If you had gone back to Iraq where would you have gone?”
Michael: “Maybe back to Kurdistan but we could not have afforded rent so we would have lived in a camp in Erbil. We are old, it would have been very tough for us.”
FRRME: “Would you have been able to work in Kurdistan? We hear it is difficult to work there if you are Christian.”
Michael: “No, I would not have been able to work there. I am old and there are not jobs for people like me. There are some people, churches, and foundations like FRRME that can give food packages but it is very tough for Christians there.”
FRRME: “Where would you like to go now?”
Michael: “We are trying for Canada or the US because we have family there. It is difficult to get there now. We are waiting all the time for a call and once we receive the call it could take two to five months until we can go. It could be a long time before we can go.”
FRRME: “What does it mean for you to go there?”
Michael: “I just want to be with my family. Hopefully the government there will help us. We will live with our sons there. Finally we will be safe.”
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