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Christians in Kurdistan and Iraq

Monday, April 4, 2011

As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Meg Munn MP was delighted to welcome Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil to Parliament to discuss the current situation of Christians in Iraq. The meeting was attended by MPs from the Kurdistan Group, members of the Christian faith in Parliament, and representatives from ‘Aid to the Church in Need’ as well as a UK representative from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

 

The Archbishop said that historically Christians in Iraq lived overwhelmingly in Baghdad and Mosul, but after violent attacks that began in 2003, they have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries and the Kurdistan region. Christians have been welcomed into Kurdistan, but the sheer numbers involved in the migration is taking its toll on the region’s resources. The Kurdistan Regional Government set up an emergency programme to handle this sudden influx but this programme is not suited for the long-term.

 

He was critical of the central Iraqi government and their failure to provide resources for the thousands of families who have fled to the Kurdistan region. Support for schools, hospitals, and universities is needed in the region to help the new Christians community but the central government has not provided sufficient funds. He noted that while support from international charities is very helpful, the problem is too big for them alone to resolve. Foreign governments can do much more through political pressure on the central government and through direct support for specific projects.

 

When asked about any problems experienced by Christians in Kurdistan, the Archbishop was clear that there is no persecution. Problems that Christians experience arise because of the sheer volume of people fleeing from elsewhere in Iraq to the safe haven in the Kurdistan region.

 

Meg commented:

 

“Meeting the Archbishop provided a good opportunity to hear directly about the current situation in Kurdistan and in other parts of Iraq. Concerns have been raised in Parliament about the treatment of Christians in Kurdistan so it was reassuring, indeed encouraging, to hear the Archbishop dismiss the idea that there is religious persecution of Christians in the Kurdistan Region.” 

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