What can we do to help the Mandaeans?

Mr. Suhaib Nashi, the president of the Mandaean Associations Union, recommends:

1. The international community and especially the USA, the UK, Australia, the EU countries, UNHCR and all other NGO’s should act to prevent this humanitarian disaster from continuing. One of the oldest and most peaceful communities in the Middle East is being annihilated under the eyes of the international community.

2. The U.N declaration for the protection of indigenous, ethnic and religious minorities is compatible with the situation of the Mandaeans and should be applied. Furthermore, the International law for the prevention of genocide should be considered.

3. Because of the role and responsibility of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments that the Coalition governments have made before and after the invasion of Iraq, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have special obligations least of which is morally to step up and save the Mandaeans and other religious minorities in Iraq. These governments should acknowledge that Mandaeans will not be safe from persecution in Iraq in any eventuality and should therefore provide Mandaeans with permanent protection by accepting them for resettlement.

4. The United States of America especially has obligations to save the Mandaeans and other religious minorities in Iraq. The United States Government should give the Mandaeans a P2 visa without delay as an extremely endangered religious minority that is at the verge of extinction due to religious persecution.

5. The USA government should start speeding up its processing of the current referred cases from UNHCR and stand up for its obligations to admit 12000 refugees this year. These obligations were not met last year.

6. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has already urged Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Mrs. Dobriansky to create new or expand existing options for allowing members of Iraq's Chaldea-Assyrian and Sabean Mandaean religious minority communities to access the U.S. refugee program, and to urge UNHCR to resume full refugee status determinations for all Iraqi asylum seekers and assess all claims without delay.

7. The international community should look seriously in helping the Mandaean refugees to resettle in one country which permits religious freedom and practices and where a community of Mandaeans can preserve their existence for the future. UNISCO has already declared the Mandaean language a threatened language.

8. The UNHCR has an immediate and urgent obligation to start processing more cases for resettlement. We suggest the Organization should take active steps to provide protection for the refugees in Jordan and Syria and give them a proper legal status to prevent abuses.

9. The UNHCR should consider granting all Mandaeans a full refugee status as a group and not on an individual basis, and give them complete protection from forcible returns to Iraq.

10. Proper Medical, and humanitarian assistance should be offered and financial support to any agency that can provide that help to the refugees. Active steps from the European Union and USA should be taken to secure the funds allocated to the refugee Mandaeans.

11. Changes should be made to the Iraqi constitution to guarantee the rights of Mandaeans and other minorities and the Iraqi government and the legal system should implement these changes to gain the trust of minorities in a safe and secure future.

12. The Iraqi Government should be held responsible for providing financial help for the refugees through independent agencies to provide them with the necessary humanitarian support.

13. The Iraqi Government should be responsible on recording and saving the properties of the Mandaean community in Iraq including their archives, documents and history until such time that their return is safe.

14. Militia leaders should be held accountable for crimes against humanity when they or their followers are caught by police in the future.

Contact in the USA (snashi@optonline.net); in UK (alroomi@alroomi.freeserve.co.uk); in Sweden (kasemharbi@gmail.com); in Canada (majidmandoie@yahoo.com).