Five years ago, while working for the Swedish Public Radio, I read close to hundred asylum cases. I had received the authority to read Christian Iraqi's documents. They had all been rejected on their asylum applications. Many of the decisions were incomprehensible.
To me, Memorial Day is one of the most important days of the year; it is a time to celebrate our veterans with parades and lay wreaths at the graves of those American soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We are accustomed to honoring American servicemen and servicewomen, but it is important to recognize that there are non-Americans to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.
Wafa Fadel Saed Jawad sits in a chair amongst a pile of various t-shirts. At 45, she has been living as a refugee in Jordan after fleeing Iraq in 2003. What makes Jawad different from other refugee women is the sparkle in her eye when she talks about her home-based business.
What if we could bring a broad range of these personalities in the Muslim world together for an event celebrating diversity while showcasing unity, strength, and peace?
There is little comfort for the displaced people of Qarakosh who see the most recent attacks as perhaps the final act in their expulsion from Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have left the country in the last two decades. Estimates of the remaining total number of Iraqi Christians are as low as 200,000.
These are problems that can only be fixed with more funding and resources, and now is the time to respond. Not only are the displaced battling to survive each day, they don't know how long they can stay wherever they are, if they will need to flee again or if their lives will ever return to normal. When and how this ends, nobody knows. What we do know is that humanitarian aid is desperately needed to keep people alive. The road ahead is long and the international community needs to step up now to save Iraq before it falls beyond repair.
Peacemaking is among the good deeds incumbent on Muslims during the holy month of fasting and prayer. Distribution of charity and food, customary at Ramadan, is needed especially by people displaced by conflict. How, then, will Ramadan be celebrated in the countries worst affected by the latest Middle East crisis?
The United States and the other international powers should look beyond short-term strategies for reducing violence and combating terrorism, as the failure in their quest stems from disregarding the underlying issues.
Iraqi refugees do not have the right to work in Jordan, but they can engage in "under-the-radar" income generation activities. This informal work, much of it undertaken in refugees' homes, is a source of much-needed money to provide for their families.
Her name is Um Mohammad. I don't know what her real name is. At the first glance in front of her house which is basically a tent in Amman, you'd think...
Courage and determination are inspiring and infectious. Once you hear their stories, you want to help them succeed. You put yourself in their shoes.
Muntaha Flufel says on most days she sits alone at home watching TV, unable to interact with the community she lives in. She keeps her windows and doors locked, in fear that someone might break in and attack her like they did in Baghdad in 2004.
Iraq is a country that is on the verge of collapse. Violence is on the upswing, and these people who bravely served America have been left twisting in the wind. Many have been forced into hiding. Others and their families have not just been threatened; they've been killed.
I hope when we talk about Iraq and the billions of dollars spent on the war, the American lives sacrificed, or how the war has damaged our reputation, I hope that we will also discuss how many millions of Iraqi lives have forever been changed by the war.
The unintended consequences of Operation Iraqi Freedom will have to be endured by us all for a very long time. Ten years after, it is still as if we are just getting started.
From its founding 32 years ago this month, Jesuit Refugee Service has made it a priority to work with "forgotten" refugees -- those living in the shadows -- whose plight is overlooked by others.