Christian Syrian Refugees Denied Visas to West

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Christian Syrian refugees have found temporary shelter in Jordan, but their immigration requests have been rejected by Western countries.

Some of them have spoken to the Associated Press, but want to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

One Syrian refugee said, "Everyone sold whatever they owned in Syria in order to get here, so that we could apply for visas at an embassy. We were all surprised to be rejected on the basis that there was no reason for us to go to Europe. Their reasons were all false - nothing correct in them."

Another man said that western countries "were supposed to support us, and they were supposed to facilitate our immigration process as Christians, and I'm very sad that they haven't."

About 70 Syrian families, who fled the violence and civil war of their homeland, are staying in halls and extra rooms of an Assyrian church in the capital Amman. Though the families are receiving food, aid and money from the church, they say the living conditions are difficult and they do not have enough heat to keep warm.
 
Christmas Day lacked the traditional happiness and joy one usually finds during the Holiday season
 
"I can't feel happy about Christmas while our country is bleeding," one refugee said.

Another refugee said, "We are suffering a lot here. Our only celebration today was inside a church to pray to God to restore security and peace in Syria."
 
According to Jordanian officials, more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees have fled Syria since the beginning of the civil war.

Those that have not fled face threats to their safety from violence or even malnutrition.

The Syrian government has blockaded access to a rebel-occupied town called Moadamiyeh, threatening the livelihood of residents there.

Syrian officials say they will allow food into a military blocked town as long as the occupying rebels meet certain conditions - they must raise the Syrian national flag and surrender heavy weapons.

The rebels in Moadamiyeh agreed to the terms on Wednesday, and by Thursday the flag was flying.

The raising of the flag is a symbolic victory for the Syrian government under President Bashar Assad.

Though food is now allowed, the deal allows for limited daily entries only, ensuring that residents could be quickly blockaded again.

However, food deliveries have yet to arrive, because the Syrian government wants a military committee to seize the heavy weapons first. The truce additionally calls for the removal of anyone who is not a registered resident of Moadamiyeh, a condition likely to thin rebel ranks.

An opposition activist, nicknamed Qusai Zakarya for security reasons, said most of the town's leaders were against the truce deal.

"But there are 8,000 hungry people here, and nobody helped us," Zakarya said.

Rebels have held the town near Damascus and it has been under military blockade for months, not allowing food, fuel, or clean water to enter the town.

For the town's 8,000 civilians malnutrition is a concern. Children and the elderly have already been badly affected with illnesses made worse from hunger.
 
The Western-backed exiled opposition group, the Syrian Coalition, said the deal demonstrated how Assad's government used "food as a tool of war."

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