AMMAN, Jordan (ChurchMilitant.com) – Hundreds of Christian asylum seekers are without basic supplies, while resources donated from Western nations are being given instead to the local Muslim community.
Sources reached out to Church Militant to express their concerns over the humanitarian crisis facing displaced Christians in the capital of Jordan, who aren't getting the aid they need.
The Muslim government of Jordan differentiates between those who flee violence or persecution in their home country into two categories: asylum seeker and refugee.
Refugees can work and receive government assistance, while asylum seekers are prohibited by law from seeking employment.
If the government discovers an asylum seeker has obtained a job, he will be sent back to his country of origin.
Within this legal framework, Church Militant has confirmed that Muslims are largely being placed in the refugee category, while Christians are being given asylum seeker status.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the organization
Caritas Internationalis (the Vatican's charitable arm) receive funds from Western nations in Europe and the United States to aid refugees from Iraq, Syria and other countries who are displaced in Jordan.
Some of these resources make it down to the local Teaching Sisters of St. Dorothy - Daughters of the Sacred Heart who provide basic supplies to the Christian asylum seekers.
The Sister Superior, Maysoon Rihani, tells Church Militant it isn't enough to help the hundreds of Christian families who are still without basic necessities.
She coordinated with families to speak about their hardships with Church Militant.
One mother told Church Militant her son required surgery on his left Achilles tendon, which would cost between 750 to 800 Jordanian dinars (JOD) or around $1,100.
Another mother revealed it was thanks to the sisters and local Christians that her family was able to afford housing. She said the government of Jordan will send them back to their home country if they are discovered working.
Sister Teresa told Church Militant she knew of a man who was a civil engineer in his home country who now helped to clean up a local church.
Another woman, Athra'a, told Church Militant of escaping persecution in Baghdad and the trials that followed:
I was living with my family in Baghdad. Then, we were kicked out by militias. We were in Dorah Region and we moved to Qaraqoush, Ninawa. We stayed in our father's house as he was a martyr and I got married there [to] my husband and thanks to God I had two girls. Then, we were kicked again to Ankawa, Irbil.
At the beginning, we heard very loud sounds of bullets and mortar hit. My eldest daughter woke up crying from these terrifying sounds. We were staying in my father-in-law's house and we did not have a car. Both my daughters were crying loud as the sounds were very close to us. We escaped on foot, I carried the young girl, and my husband carried the eldest one.
My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law joined us; however, my father-in-law stayed home, as he could not walk due to sickness and age. My other brother-in-law stayed with him.
We reached a place near Al-Hamdanyeh hospital. We saw pick-ups there, and asked for a ride to Irbil. After five hours [from] our departure, we heard that they closed our area and they [would] not allow anyone to leave it. Therefore, my father-in-law and brother-in-law were imprisoned [at] home for around 15 days.
After this period of time, they ran out of food supplies, so they decided to leave home. ISIS saw them and took them as hostages. They kept them in a mosque for about three hours. After that, they brought a bus and sent all the old men (hostages) to that bus. When my brother-in-law tried to join my father-in-law on the bus,ISIS threatened him with a weapon and told my father-in-law "choose either you or your son [to] take one seat on this bus." My father-in-law said that he wanted his son to leave, but ISIS sent the old man and kept the son as a hostage.
This is the fifth year since he was taken and we haven't heard anything about him from governmental, political or religious party.
Athra'a speaks about her family's ordeal
Athra'a and her family are currently living in a moldy apartment while they wait for permission to immigrate to Australia, after being rejected three times by the United Nations to go to Europe or the United states.
Sister Rihani prays for more assistance and says the families are most in need of sugar, powder milk, pasta and oil.
Gleb Olshansky praises the efforts of the sisters, and local Christian citizens who help the asylum seekers, but he is criticizing the Church's efforts to help on a larger scale.
Olshansky observes that a great deal of money from Catholics in Western countries is used to support the local Muslim community, including providing Iftar meals to Jordanian Muslims who work in sanitation during the month of Ramadan.
The Jesuit Refugee Service and Caritas help Muslim refugees learn English and gain immigration permission to Europe and the United States, while many Christian asylum-seekers go through the process without assistance to gain admittance to Australia.
Caritas is an international body associated with the Vatican consisting of 160 national charitable organizations worldwide, with the aim of helping the poor.
According to Caritas' own lastest numbers in 2017, only 15,921 individuals from Iraq have been registered of the 65,505 total number.
Caritas has recently been hit with a scandal involving a priest, Fr. Luk Delft, a convicted pedophile allowed to head Caritas in the Central African Republic. Delft was forced to step down after a CNN investigation revealed he had been sheltered by the organization, who was aware Delft had been convicted in 2012 of abusing minors and possessing child porn, and was court-mandated not to have any contact with children.
The Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem declined requests for comment.