Published On: Wed, Oct 1st, 2014

Canon Andrew White on Iraq crisis: troops on the ground needed against ISIS as Christians still flee

A new report revealed that Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two thousand year after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.

The vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, Canon Andrew White, spoke with the Telegraph detailing the oppression in region and how the Sunni Muslims are setting up offices in churches, flying the black ISIS flag overheard.

Islamic State flag

Islamic State flag

“Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years,” he said. “All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad,” White tells the UK paper.

“Many Christians here are very frightened about what has happened to their community up in the north. Some have relatives who have lost everything: their homes, furniture, cars. They have nothing left at all.”

This area of Iraq is already struggling. Many of these Christians migrated from the Iraq capital and surrounding areas to Mosul and Nineveh in the north during the US invasion of the country. Terrorist attacks have now led to 200,000 Christians forced to leave their homes again after ISIS Sunnis demanded they convert to Islam, pay a Christianity tax or face execution.

Airstrikes are now underway and White confirmed the fear of civilian casualties. “From the Iraqi point of view, the only way we can gain some kind of real safety and real removal of the Islamic State, as they call themselves, would be by having troops on the ground,” he says.

“But from a British point of view, I wouldn’t want our troops in Iraq, where they could be killed. So it is a difficult situation all round.”

White’s congregation at St George’s Church in Baghdad has fallen to a little over 1,000 members.

“To be honest, every single Christian wants to leave,” he said.

“I used to say to my people: ‘Don’t you leave. I’m not going to leave you, don’t leave me’. But now every one of them wants to leave and the ones who are left tend to be the poorer ones who couldn’t get away earlier.”

Iraq’s Christian population has more than halved over the past decade or so, from about 1 million before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to barely 400,000 by July this year.

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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