Friday, August 03, 2007

Assistance to Iranian Refugees

Assistance to Iranian Refugees
Even now many people come to Japan seeking for asylum. ISSJ assists refugees and applicants for refugee recognition.
An Iranian couple, persecuted in their country because of their conversion from Moslem to Christianity, came to Japan in last February and was detained in the Yokohama Regional Immigration Bureau. Immediately they applied for "Refugee Recognition" to Japanese government and UNHCR. After that they were transferred from the Yokohama Regional Immigration Bureau to the East Immigration Center, Ushiku, Ibarak-keni. Having recognized their refugee status, UNHCR asked ISSJ to assist them. As the couple was detained separately, they could hardly have a chance to talk to each other. The ISSJ social worker proposed a joint interview of the couple and as the result the worker could establish a reliable relationship with them through counseling. During the interview they explained to the worker that they were artists involving in creative activities in their home country, showed their photos and talked about their future plans. Besides the interviews, the worker supported them through telephone counseling. However, long-term detention made them tired both emotionally and physically. During the counseling sessions, the worker often could not find any comforting words to support them. But the couple encouraged and helped each other. The husband complained of bodily pain and the wife said that something wrong with her breast. The worker conveyed their complaints to the Immigration Bureau so that they would be able to get proper treatment.

After their provisional release UNHCR asked ISSJ to provide continuous assistance to them and so the worker accompanied them to a hospital for treatment. As for the living expenses, they could get support money from UNHCR but since it was not enough they were worried about the expensive living in Japan. The wife showed the paper vases and flowers made by fliers during the detention to the worker, who proposed her to sell her handicrafts at the ISSJ Charity Cinema. At first ISSJ was not sure whether it would succeed or not but we could sell all her products appealing to those who came to the Charity Cinema. She also prepared the display coming early in the morning. We believe this success encouraged her a lot.

Although ISSJ has been looking for their jobs through various networks, it is hard to find their jobs under such economical situation in Japan and they are still jobless. Now they are under provisional release and on their Alien Registration it is clearly stated "No Residential Status". As the result they have no chance of getting jobs and have to live worrying about their future. They are looking forward to get Refugee Recognition from Japanese government. ISSJ offers them the sales place at the ISSJ Charity Cinema twice a year as well as planning to support them to be independent making use of various approaches.
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