"20/20" TRAVELS TO IRAQ TO FOLLOW THE PLIGHT OF
IRAQI CHRISTIAN REFUGEES DISPLACED BY ISIS
Elizabeth Vargas' Report Airs on "20/20," Friday, December 18, 10 p.m. EST on ABC
Former U.S. counter-terrorism officers Michele and Joe Assad are taking matters into their own hands, planning the evacuation of 560 Iraqi Christian refugees fleeing the atrocities of ISIS, who have given them the devastating choice: convert to Islam or suffer penalties that can be as extreme as execution. For the past 14 months, these refugees - driven from their home town of Qaraqosh - have been camped out in the courtyard of St. Elia Church in Erbil, Iraq, sheltered there by renowned advocate for Iraqi Christians Father Douglas Bazi. In Erbil they are safe clothed, and fed through the church's charity, but they are not allowed to get jobs or attend local schools. Working with Father Douglas and building off their own professional expertise, the Assads have designed what they believe is a vetting/backgrounding process to determine that these refugees are not a security threat to any prospective new home country. After petitioning several nations to accept these refugees, the Assads have convinced the Republic of Slovakia to take them in. "20/20" is there as the first planeload, with more than 125 refugees, is evacuated from Erbil and arrives in Slovakia.
Elizabeth Vargas' first-hand report on the Assad's efforts to help these refugees airs on "20/20," on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST) on ABC.
"20/20" is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir. David Sloan is senior executive producer.