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Assyrian Refugees in Lebanon Want to Return to North Iraq
By Nasr Ali

Driven out of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region by the ISIS war, Christians who fled to Lebanon are now considering returning home due to the situation in the country where they sought shelter.

Minas Khame is a Christian from the city of Duhok. Some of his relatives are refugees in Lebanon, which has a large Christian population.

"Some of our relatives went to Lebanon three months ago. They have registered their names with the UN there and are now awaiting a decision to see whether they can immigrate to the US. But they are now about to lose hope," Khame told Rudaw.

His relatives tell him they would now feel more secure in the Kurdistan Region due to the current situation in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in a televised address earlier this month. He said there was a plot to kill him and accused Iran and certain groups associated with Iran of causing instability in Lebanon and beyond.

Christians from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains were one of the many groups targeted by ISIS when the group overran parts of Iraq. They had to choose between two options: pay a tax to ISIS or leave. Most chose to leave.

Christians reportedly continue to leave Iraq, as many as three families per day, according to unofficial figures. Many turn to Lebanon where they register with the UN and wait for resettlement in a third country.

"We are aware that the Christians living in Lebanon are afraid and anxious. We have contacted them and reassured them," Farid Jacob, a Christian MP in Kurdistan's parliament, told Rudaw.

He estimated there are nearly 20,000 Iraqi Christians living in Lebanon, though he noted the number swells and wanes as more families flee and those in Lebanon are resettled elsewhere.

"We will remain in contact with them and will assist them if something happens," he said.

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