Number 219 | February 25, 2013
In an effort to alleviate the suffering of thousands of Iraq’s displaced Chaldean Christians who found refuge in Turkey, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Chaldean Federation of America (CFA). The final funds of the grant were dispersed recently through an aid program administered by the Chaldean-Assyrian Association (KADER) in Turkey. Reflecting on this humanitarian aid grant, leading members of the Chaldean American community expressed their gratitude to the TCA for the hand extended by Turkish Americans to displaced Iraqi Chaldeans.
Michael J. George, Chairman Emeritus of the CFA said: “The Chaldean community worldwide thank the Turkish Coalition of America for their donation of $100,000 for the Iraqi refugees in Turkey. The Chaldean Federation of America was pleased to participate in ensuring that 100% of the money reach those in need. The Iraqi and American people greatly appreciate the goodwill generated by the Turkish Coalition of America.”
Speaking on behalf of the Chaldean American community, Joe T. Kassab, President of Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute said: “The Chaldean Community in the Diaspora and in Iraq greatly appreciate TCA’s humanitarian gift, which has helped alleviate the suffering of our refugees in Turkey. We hope to see both communities continue to work together to assist Iraqi refugees in need."
TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy explained that, “This grant arose from a belief that humanitarianism is a global endeavor.” He added that “Turkey has historically been very welcoming to persecuted peoples of all religions and ethnic backgrounds, including Jews from Spain and Europe, as well as people fleeing violence from all over the Balkans, the Crimea and the Caucasus as the Ottoman Empire contracted. Modern Turkey has continued to provide food and shelter to hundreds of thousands of refugees, including Bulgarian Turks, Bosniaks, Iraqi Kurds and, most recently an estimated 200,000 Syrians fleeing violence in Syria.”
The Chaldean community of Turkey represented by their church and non-governmental organization KADER has reached far beyond their small community in extending comfort and aid to their displaced co-religionists, as well as many other refugees of all faith who found refuge in Turkey. Through the humanitarian aid grant awarded by TCA, thousands of Iraqi Christian families who found refuge in Turkey have received assistance. Teoman Onder, Chairman of KADER, stated “The TCA grant helped us to provide aid to nearly 3,850 refugee families and 2,150 young refugees who are in Turkey on their own, with many orphans and widows among them.”
Iraqi refugees began leaving Iraq to escape persecution under Saddam Hussein, and have continued to view Turkey as a safe harbor since the fall of Hussein's regime. There are currently an estimated 6,500 Iraqi Christian refugees in Turkey. The aid by private groups supplements the official aid programs of Turkey, who has carried a heavy burden throughout the last several decades caring for the tens of thousands of displaced civilians from the wars in the region.