American Couple Helps 149 Iraqi Christians Escape ISIS

They flew 25 refugee families to Slovakia this month
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2015 2:17 PM CST
American Couple Helps 149 Iraqi Christians Escape ISIS
Iraqi Christians hold candles at a camp for the displaced in Irbil, Iraq, in December. Earlier this month, a married US couple helped 149 Iraqi Christian refugees relocate to Slovakia.   (AP Photo/Alice Martins)

Nearly 150 refugees from Iraq—including many children—got off a private jet in Slovakia on Dec. 10, ready to start a new life far from ISIS attacks, ABC News reports. The 25 families are Christians who fled their homes to escape persecution and violence. They were aided in their escape by former US counter-terrorism officers Joseph and Michele Assad. “Muslims have other Muslim nations that they can turn to," Joseph says. "They can go to other Arab countries. They can resettle there. Christians are having a much more difficult time resettling in some of these Arab countries.” The Assads had been working with Iraq's Mar Elia Chaldean Catholic Church—where more than 550 Christian refugees have sough shelter—for months.

ABC reports the Assads were trying to convince at least a dozen countries to take in the families before Slovakia finally agreed. “We are so proud of Slovakia,” Michele says. “They were very courageous to make this decision, and it wasn’t an easy one to make … We hope other countries will have similar courage.” The relocation of the refugees was funded with $12 million from Glen Beck's charity. “I am so grateful to the 130,000 individuals whose generous contributions made this journey possible, and I’m sure, if they could, the refugees would thank them, too,” the Blaze quotes a statement from Beck. The fundraising will also be paying for an "integration program" to help the refugees adjust to life in Slovakia. (More refugee stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.