Local charity helps Iraqi refugees

January 28, 2008 10:36:31 PM PST
The South Bay group is helping nearly 2 million Iraqi refugees relocate.

Fighting in Iraq has created what Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is calling a refugee crisis.

Catholic Charities is sending a delegation to the Middle East in an effort to reunite Iraqi families torn apart by the war.

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is trying to call attention to what it calls a crisis surrounding Iraqi refugees.

It's sending a delegation to the Middle East, in an effort to reunite families torn apart by the violence in Iraq.

Hussien Almousawy shows me pictures of his family trapped in Syria after fleeing Iraq.

There's his wife and two daughters. The oldest is three, and the youngest was just two-weeks-old when he last held her.

Hussien has not seen them for nearly a year and a half.

"I love them so much much I want to see them soon," said Iraqi refugee Hussien Almousawy.

Hussien was working for the United Nations delivering food in Iraq when it simply became too dangerous to stay. In an effort to survive, the family separated.

Hussien's story is like many Iraqi refugees. After the fall of Saddam, the militia killed some of his friends and colleagues and he was in fear of his life.

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is sending four people to Syria and Jordan to connect with Hussien's family and others forced to flee Iraq and unable to get to the United States.

"Since 911 There's a much more rigorous screening process which we understand and appreciate but at the same time these are refugees who put their lives on the line for our country as well as their own and I think we need to give them special consideration," said Catholic Charities of Santa Clara CEO Gregory Kepfele.

Catholic Charities is among many groups critical of U.S. policy regarding Iraqi refugees.

The Bush Administration initially promised 7,000 refugees could resettle in the Untied States. Last year the U.S. admitted just over 1,600.

The United Nation's estimates 2.5 billion Iraqis are now living in places like Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

"The word that we're hearing is that many of those refugees aren't allowed to work, no work permits their children can't go to school and many of them are running out of money," said Kepfele.

Hussien says his wife sold her wedding dress to help care for the children.

The delegation from Catholic charities will be meeting with people from the State Department and the United Nations in hopes of reuniting Hussien and others with their families.

"I hope, I hope. I live with that hope," said Almousawy.

The delegation leaves on Monday night for the Middle East and will return in two weeks.

For Hussien it's another 336 hours without his wife and daughters.