After his grandfather and uncle were arrested and detained by officials from Saddam Hussein's Baath Party in the early 1970s, Robert DeKelaita and his family decided it was time to flee Iraq. Now as an immigration lawyer who focuses on securing political asylum for displaced ...
After his grandfather and uncle were arrested and detained by officials from Saddam Hussein's Baath Party in the early 1970s, Robert DeKelaita and his family decided it was time to flee Iraq. Now as an immigration lawyer who focuses on securing political asylum for displaced Iraqis, Chicago Public Radio's Eight Forty Eight reports on how the Skokie-based Assyrian is helping other refugees find the stability that his family provided him.
DeKelaita speaks at length of the struggle Christian minority communities face in Iraq, a sad reality I wrote about in an In These Times feature on the Iraqi refugee crisis:
While people of all ethnic sects have been affected, Chaldean Catholics — like the Rabbans — have borne a disproportionate burden. Though Chaldeans make up only 3 percent of Iraq’s population, conservative estimates suggest that 25 percent have fled to Syria or relocated to northern Iraq. Sunnis and Shiites have bombed Chaldean-owned businesses and Christian churches in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul. And in one of the war’s most high-profile kidnappings, Chaldean archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was abducted on Feb. 29 and his body found two weeks later, half buried in a shallow grave in Mosul.
“Communities that are not protected by larger groups that have militias, like Christian communities, have been especially hit hard,” says Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, whose work examines U.S. national security policy in the Middle East.
DeKelaita also speaks about his desire to leave the "gray of Chicago" and return to his homeland. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen any time in the near future. A Government Accountability Office report released today says that despite security gains in the region, "the American plan for a stable Iraq lacks a strategic framework that meshes with the administration’s goals, is falling out of touch with the realities on the ground and contains serious flaws in its operational guidelines."