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San Diego Chaldean Members Urge President Obama To Help In Iraq

Above: Mark Arabo, a spokesperson for the Iraqi Chaldean community in San Diego County, says he worries about mass genocide of Christians and minorities in Iraq as violence continues to escalate, June 12, 2014.

The collapsing security situation in Iraq prompted members of San Diego's Iraqi community to head to Washington, D.C. in hopes of convincing President Barack Obama to take action against a militant offensive. Among them was Mark Arabo, a life-long resident of El Cajon and spokesman for the Chaldean community in San Diego. KPBS "Morning Edition's" Deb Welsh spoke to Arabo about the trip.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish when you're there?

A. Well, I have spoken to Congressman Vargas and Congressman Peters and other members of our delegation. We're going to set up meetings with the State Department and from the beginning we've been very clear that we're hoping NATO and the U.N. come together to make sure they facilitate a mass exodus of Christians in Iraq. The balance is getting worse by the hour. More news has been coming out of Christians, non-Christians , minorities getting killed in Iraq. And so we're hoping to map out a plan for their safe passage.

Q. Now, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave the country. Do you know where those refugees are going and have any of them been able to reach the U.S.?

A. Most of them have not been able to reach the U.S. And it's actually become harder now because of the crisis. Historically they'd go to Syria, but Syria is just as bad as Iraq. So, right now, we're trying to find them and then help them get to the U.S. and like-minded nations. We hope that the United States provides intelligence and possibly airstrikes, if and only if, Prime Minister Maliki assures the United States and the world that he will be inclusive of Shehites and Sunni's and Kurds and Chaldeans and Christians alike so we could have an Iraq for everyone, longterm. The Chaldean community at large does not want more U.S. soldiers on the ground. We don't want more troops. The soldiers, our sons and daughters, have made extraordinary sacrifices.

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