Can you give us some numbers?
Between 250 and 500 thousand, compared with 70 to 80 thousand in the period before the war. Some have left because of the lack of security, others because they are linked to the old regime or the Baath party. Many intellectuals have left in order to avoid being accused of collaboration with the Americans. I know five university professors who live in just one room here in Damascus.
How many cases have you seen up to now, and how many of these are Christians?
From December 2003 to August 2004 we examined 8,372 cases. The percentage of Christians is constantly increasing. In the last period, 50% of the 200 cases examined dealt with Christians. Many people have realized that the current protection regime is no longer sufficient and they have stopped coming here.
Do they want to obtain refugee status?
Yes, justly so. Especially for the Christians. On the other hand, giving them refugee status means encouraging them to leave. This is why I believe that finding a formula that allows us to help them more efficiently is urgent. For this reason the international community must consider it a priority to establish peace in Iraq.
Why this concentration in Syria?
Unlike other countries in the region, Syria did not close its borders to the refugees.