Umm George, of Armenian origin, is a septuagenarian Iraqi woman who escaped from the war in the 1990s to take care of her husband who had been injured during the first Gulf War. She then remained as a widow in Jordan, lacking the financial resources to return to Iraq, where a month ago she was joined by her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren who had been forced to leave Mosul by a new menace — ISIS — which is today confronting millions of people in Iraq and Syria.
All five now live in two rooms in Amman, in an area totaling less than 70 square meters, without documents that would allow them to work.Umm George’s story is just one of many among Christian refugees today in Jordan who, thanks to Association pro Terra Sancta and assistance from Caritas Antoniana, are being helped to find accommodation and a hope for the future.
The mission of the Franciscan friars in Jordan is one of the oldest in service to the Christian minority in the country, and the Terra Sancta School in Amman is considered to be one of the best schools in the entire country.
In the past few years the situation has been changing very rapidly, and Jordan is one of the few “safe harbors” remaining in the turbulent Middle Eastern context. For this reason, many families fleeing the areas of conflict are today refugees in Jordan. And this refers not only to the official refugees living in refugees camps, but to the thousands of people who left their homeland convinced that they would soon be able to return, using their life savings, and years later now find themselves lacking both resources and the valid documents necessary for remaking their lives, and with no prospects for the future.
In this context the Franciscan friars led by Fr. Rachid Mistrih – who is of Syrian origin and has lived in Jordan for more than twenty years – have been able to meet the new needs and are working on the ground to support a number of the families suffering in the new humanitarian emergency. Association pro Terra Sancta is working alongside them, and everyone can make a concrete contribution to their mission: because the history of the Christians of the Middle East and their strength in resisting and bearing witness form part of our own roots and culture.
Vincenzo Bellomo, collaborator of Association pro Terra Sancta, from Amman.