Dozens of Christians and other religious minorities from Iran have been on a resettlement roller coaster. It just took a new turn.
Around 100 Iranian refugees who were invited to resettle in the United States and then denied entry after a year of waiting in Vienna have two reasons to hope.
After being rejected from America, the migrants have applied for asylum in Austria and four have already been approved. This latest development occurred after many had already exhausted their savings and been divided from their families—the denials separated two women from their fiancés and cut parents off from their children.
Earlier this year, Austrian member of parliament Gudrun Kugler learned of the refugees’ plight and invited the group to meet with her.
“With tears in their eyes, these people were telling me how much they wanted to start to work and live meaningful lives,” Kugler said. “One young woman told me that she had not been to a school in two years. She could not sleep, and she was self-medicating. This uncertainty was very difficult for them.”
Kugler, who believes helping the community is part of following her call as a Christian, reached out to a number of NGOs to help the migrants find health insurance, enroll in German classes, and take advantage of job training options.
One of her partner organizations, the Nazarene Fund, offered rent support and aid for medical and psychological care and legal services. In addition, it reached out to the US government to learn why the group had been denied entry after their initial acceptance. Since then, the US State Department has asked that the group to resubmit their requests for asylum.
Another reason for hope: Earlier this month, a US district court judge for the Northern District of California sided with the refugees, challenging the US government’s blanket denial …