The people in this picture are Iraqis we met in Damascus in 2006. They had fled the Iraqi city of Basra, when after the U.S. invasion of 2003, militias began a campaign of "religious cleansing." These Christians had lived side by side with Muslim neighbors, both Shi'a and Sunni, all their lives, but in the chaos of war, community broke down. They saw friends and relatives killed and they fled.
Their lives in Syria were hard. Syria would not allow them to work, but at least it allowed them to live unmolested. Their children had little future, but they were alive.
The current violence in Syria is particularly devastating to the still large population of Iraqi refugees who had fetched up there. Cathy Breen from the Catholic Worker community in New York has worked with displaced Iraqis in Syria for years. She describes their situation:
Breen can be reached by email at this link.
Sitting comfortably oceans away, people in the United States can forget about our shameful war of destruction without purpose on the people of Iraq. We should not be surprised if others cannot.