Bolton West MP Chris Green joined a charity visit to Northern Iraq to meet with persecuted Christians fleeing terrorist group Islamic State in the war-torn region.
The visit, organised by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, saw a group of MPs visiting a camp for refugee families close to the frontline with ISIL in Northern Iraq, as well as meeting with Kurdish government officials and members of the Christian community in the region. They also visited a refugee camp in Erbil where 5,500 people are currently living.
Tens of thousands of Christians have been forced to leave Iraq because of Islamist extremists. Following the 2003 Iraq War and the 2015 invasion by ISIL, those Iraqi Christians who did not flee where told that they would have to pay the terrorist group an Islamic tax, convert to Islam or die. Many tried to stay but when their money ran out, they also fled.
The Christian community in Iraq is considered to be one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1st century AD. There were believed to be 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before the Iraq Invasion in 2003, however that numbed is now reported to have fallen to 230,000.
Speaking after the visit, Chris Green commented: “Organisations like Aid to the Church in Need have a done a huge amount of good work but we are all looking for a long-term solution – one that doesn’t lead to the disappearance of Christianity from the region.
“Refugees now want to go home to rebuild their lives so this has to be a top priority. We have the chance to give people back their futures and bring peace to this part of the Middle East.”