Refugees welcome pilgrims in Jordan

One of the leaders of a pilgrimage to Jordan over Orthodox Easter has described the visit to Our Lady's Mount Refugee Centre as “harrowing”. Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, a Jesuit based at Farm Street Church in London, says many of the pilgrims felt "powerless" when they met refugees being cared for at the Centre run by the Sons of Divine Providence and the experience opened their eyes to the suffering of people in the region who have been forced from their homes.

“All are Christians expelled from Mosul and surrounding areas, often in the most violent ways,” Fr Dominic explains. “There are 44 living there; they've been there for seven months, cut off from other family members who fled to Kurdistan, just waiting to leave. But, although Caritas and the Jesuit Refugee Service are trying to help move them on through the UN, they have nowhere to go.”

Resettlement

“We were given wonderfully warm hospitality but heard many harrowing stories of their forced removal from Iraq, leaving families, homes which have now been destroyed, furniture, jobs, schooling. There is an urgent need for their resettlement, either in the region or abroad, which will enable them to continue to contribute to society through their professions; among those that we met were physiotherapists and teachers. Many said they would love to come to settle in Britain.”

There are 620,000 refugees in Jordan. Although the border with Iraq is closed, many are being refused entry and, as in Lebanon, the border with Syria is now completely closed.

Pilgrims were visiting Jordan to celebrate Orthodox Easter and show solidarity with suffering Christians in the region. The pilgrimage, organised by Living Stones, included the major liturgical celebrations, as well as meeting with Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Photo: Fr Dominic with refugees at Our Lady's Mount Refugee Centre. Credit: Leslie Giltz