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Chaldean Refugees Arrive in Germany
By Sabah Hajjar :: Monday, March 23, 2009 :: 79942 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

GERMANY - Germany has long fought for the protection of war refugees and has taken their cases to the EU on numerous occasions.  Germany has agreed to resettle 2,500 Iraqi refugees, said the Amman office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday, March 10, adding that 2,000 would come from Syria and 500 from Jordan.
 
The first batch of refugees will be soon leaving Jordan for resettlement in Germany, Dana Bajjali, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR office in Amman told DPA news agency without indicating the precise date of their departure. Around 120 Christian refugees from Iraq arrived in Germany on Thursday in search of a better and safer future away from the turmoil of their home country.
 
Amnesty International's Julia Duchrow explains that the successful asylum applicants have a clean criminal record and can not have been members of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's Baath party.  Single mothers, those suffering from post-traumatic stress and people with ties to Germany also had a greater chance of having their application for asylum approved, she added. 

Christians in Iraq have faced severe persecution following the invasion of Iraq six years ago. They are often targeted by Islamic militants or criminals who regard them as being in league with occupation forces. It is often also assumed that Christians have rich relatives in the West and as a result they are often targeted for kidnappings in order to get large ransoms.

There are currently around two million refugees from Iraq living in Jordan and Syria. An Iraqi minister previously said that Iraqi Christians should remain in the country to to help rebuild in spite of the frequent attacks by Islamic extremists and criminals.

Last year, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and murdered by al-Qaeda. In October 15,000 Christians fled the city of Mosul after a spate of murders were committed against Christians. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees said Iraqis accounted for around one third of asylum applications received since the start of 2009.  Nearly half of all refugees leaving Iraq are Christian, even though Christianity is the religion of only three per cent of Iraqis.

About 2.2 million Iraqis fled their homes after the US-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003. In addition to the presence of foreign troops, the war sparked sectarian violence between Sunnis and the Iran-backed Shiite Muslims.

Many of the refugees who arrived at Hanover airport were single mothers and their children as well as a number of sick people. One child was quickly taken away to receive medical attention, reports the International Herald Tribune.

The EU has pledged to take in around 10,000 refugees from Iraq, many of whom are Christians or from other religious minorities. Germany is expected to take in 2,500 people. The UK, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have also pledged to accept refugees.

Last week a senior Swedish official urged other European nations to take in more Iraqi refugees, saying that Sweden will put the matter on its agenda when it assumes the six month EU presidency in July.

The United States on the other hand had admitted only 1,200 refugees in 2007, but has since opened its doors to over 12,000 asylum seekers, following criticism from the EU and international refugee organizations.

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.