Christians Squeezed Out by Violent Struggle in North Syria
By SUSANNE GÜSTEN
13th February 2013
Many Syriac refugees, including those interviewed in Mardin and Midyat, would prefer a European visa to a place in a Turkish refugee camp or a cell in a Tur Abdin monastery. “Most want to move on and leave the region,” Mr. Turker admitted. “But we won’t help them to do that.”
In fact, the Syriac federation has asked European embassies in Ankara and the U.S. Consulate in Adana not to provide the refugees with visas, but rather to help them stay in the region, Syriac activists said.
“We are strictly opposed to an exodus of Syriacs from our homeland,” said Aziz Demir, the mayor of Kafro, a Syriac village in Tur Abdin that was recently rebuilt and resettled by Syriacs returning from the European diaspora; he is also president of a Syriac association affiliated with the federation.
“We tell every refugee who comes that he must not emigrate to Europe or America, but hold out in Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan, because emigration means that we will lose our homeland and our roots,” Mr. Demir said.
Hannibal, a 36-year-old pathologist who fled Syria when his life was threatened by rebels, was not smiling as he talked: “As Christians in the Middle East, we live in misery and suffer many difficulties. We want nothing more than to emigrate to other places.”
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