WCC report focuses on Iraqi, Syrian refugees

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), a member of the ACT Alliance, released a report in Oslo last year entitled, "The Protection Needs of Minorities from Syria and Iraq". It was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

World Council of Churches is one of the ecumenical partners supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment.

"This report brings forward a reality that is not that well-known and it brings forward the needs" of those in the study, said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit at the launch of report.

The removal of the group calling itself Islamic State (IS) will not alone secure the return of displaced minority communities or their longer-term well-being in Iraq or Syria, a new report released in Oslo has found.

"We see the whole picture in another way and we see it more clearly in a more frightening and deeply worrying way," as the report contains details of the sexual abuse, and often sexual enslavement of women and horrific atrocities against the communities.

It has to "be of the most dramatic situations in the world today, if not the most dramatic in the world, for so many people, and also for security and peace for the region, and the whole world," he said.

He said that communities referred to as "minorities" in the report such as Yazidis and Christians "are not happy" at that reference. They see themselves as part of the social fabric and were in the region "in ancient times even before the religious map" that is drawn today.

The report says that the whole population of both "Syria and Iraq is feeling the toll of the armed conflicts in their countries".

It seeks to expand the understanding of the protection needs of religious and ethnic minority groups in both countries, including those remaining and those who have fled to neighboring countries.

The report is geared to humanitarian actors, to help them refine and coordinate efforts to provide life-saving assistance and work towards sustainable long-term solutions for all Syrians and Iraqis.

Further, the report aims to support Syria, Iraq, neighboring countries and donors in their search for better humanitarian responses, and to   help find the most durable solutions for displaced minority communities from Syria and Iraq.

In Syria, 35 percent of Christians and 8 percent of Muslims surveyed wanted to emigrate. In the Kurdistan region, 65 percent of Christians wanted to leave, in contrast with 12 percent of Muslims. The desire to leave the Kurdistan region is strongest among Yezidis (85 percent of Yezidi respondents).

This percentage is higher than, but not far from, the estimate of a Yezidi organization: "If there would be [the] opportunity tomorrow, more than 75 percent of Yezidis would leave Iraq as they do not see [a] safe future here."

The analysis and findings stem from of the views of 4,000 displaced people and refugees from Syria and Iraq.

NCA carried out the project, in partnership with WCC and with funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

World Council of Churches website

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