By: Michael J Robinson
Aid to the Church in Need has called on the Government to act to save persecuted Christians and other faith groups in Iraq and Syria after a UN human rights office report said recent atrocities there could be classed as ‘genocide’. The report, based on interviews with more than 100 alleged victims and witnesses, called on the security council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court. While welcoming the report, ACN has demanded the UK Government take action to address the situation.
The report highlights substantial human rights violations, including killings, torture, rape and sexual slavery, forced religious conversions and the conscription of children. Outlining the severity of the situation in Iraq, the report states: “It is reasonable to conclude that some of these incidents, considering the overall information, may constitute genocide.”
According to the report, launched in Geneva on 19th March 2015, many witnesses stated that IS members have “pillaged and destroyed buildings in the city including historic Christian cathedrals and churches.”
Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said: “Aid to the Church in Need very much welcomes the report by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“In the UK we are fortunate to have the freedom to live out our faith, but the terrible reality is that Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq do not. “We therefore call on our Prime Minister (David Cameron) and the leaders of every political party to take action to support the religious minorities of Iraq and for the human right of religious freedom to be upheld around the world.”
Speaking at an ACN event in Westminster, last month, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, northern Iraq identified the “genocide” in his country and the necessity for the UK Government to take action in order to protect the country’s Christians and other religious minorities.
Archbishop Warda’s diocese covers the Kurdish-controlled territory which since last summer has become the home to more than 120,000 Iraqi Christian refugees who fled as IS overran such cities and towns as Mosul, Qaraqosh and Karamles.
Iraq is a priority country for ACN and that is why the charity is responding to the growing humanitarian crisis by providing temporary accommodation for refugee families, medical care and food supplies.