Ameel Koro fled his home country, Iraq, following a devastating civil war that took its toll on a whole nation and left religious and ethnic minorities in peril. Refusing to abandon his Christian faith and faced with dire choices, Ameel began the desperate journey to safety when he, his parents, and his siblings first arrived in Syria in 2008 and sought help from the UNHCR.
His struggle could have ended in 2011 when his family was finally approved for resettlement to a third country and entered the final stage of the process, but another civil war soon erupted, this time in Syria. The bulk of UNHCR’s operations in the region halted. Ameel and his family had to suffer the horrors of civil war once again while they pinned their hopes on UNHCR operations resuming.
Unfortunately, the situation in Syria only deteriorated with time. No help in sight. Diplomatic missions abandoned. Their Iraqi passports unable to carry them across any borderline. With escape routes cut off one after another by ISIS and other terrorist groups, Ameel and his family escaped the inferno for the only place in the world willing to welcome them without visas. They arrived in the Republic of Georgia in 2012. Shaken, alone, extremely low on resources, and without knowledge of the local language, they sought nothing more than safety.
“When we arrived in Georgia, our feelings were a mixture of gratitude for our safety and fear of what’s going to happen next. Then we learned that the UNHCR had no third-country resettlement program in Georgia and would not be able to process our files. We ran in circles for months. Doors slammed shut wherever we turned. Our time in Georgia was going to end soon. At that time, it seemed that we had truly reached the lowest point in our lives, and it became inevitable that we would be sent back to one of the civil wars raging in Iraq or Syria once our visas expired. We had nowhere left to go, no clue what to do.”
Ameel had little to no hope that their resettlement cases could ever be revived, but he desperately sought the help of IOM-Georgia regardless.
Little did Ameel know when he walked through our door that his and his family’s lives were about to change drastically.
“I was shocked when I found out that IOM-Georgia was already well aware of my situation. Everywhere I went, I had to explain from the beginning what had happened to us in a different part of the world, it happened countless times, but this time I had to only show them my papers before they realized what must have happened.”
IOM-Georgia had already addressed the issue before Ameel’s arrival by taking some serious steps to address the humanitarian crisis, coordinated with other offices, and considering practical solutions to help the new arrivals, many of whom were in the final stages of their resettlement process. A new emergency path was immediately established to process their cases.
By early 2014, Ameel took his first step on American soil as a resettled refugee.
Within only two months, he started his first job in America providing janitorial services at Seaworld – San Diego and earned an “employee of the month” recognition in July 2014.
When his seasonal contract at Seaworld ended, he worked a temporary job at a local hospital before being hired a few months later by the world’s largest private security solutions provider where he still works as a Security Officer today.
Since then, Ameel has earned over 60 professional certificates in the field of security operations and certified First Aid training and has been named “Employee of the Quarter” twice.
He has also continued his education and earned associate degrees with honors in History, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Anthropology from Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges. He hopes to obtain a higher education degree in Archaeology so that he can pursue his passion and volunteer to join archaeological expeditions studying European pre-medieval societies.
In the summer of 2019, Ameel was awarded U.S. Citizenship in a ceremony at San Diego’s Golden Hall and began his new life as an American citizen.
Since arriving in America, Ameel has authored two books. His latest novel, Natir Whitebridge, received very positive reactions from readers in the USA and United Kingdom, and he continues to write with the aim of building himself a career as an author and one day earning the title of New York Times best seller.