Bishops’ letter on ‘Christian exodus’ in Iraq

Sir, We urge the government to promote a co-ordinated approach towards the estimated 100,000 displaced Christians around northern Iraq/Kurdistan, many of whom have nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Their fate is now in the hands of outsiders after a forced exodus from areas they have inhabited since New Testament times. Western non-government organisations and churches are providing immediate aid, and the response by UNHCR, the Department for International Development and the British public has been substantial; however this level of aid cannot be sustained, and a longer-term solution is required.

Many of the displaced Christians and Yazidis have no confidence that a political or military solution will lead to their being able to survive back in their home territory. Many Christians are looking to find asylum in other countries. Australia, Canada, Sweden, Germany, France and others have proved remarkably generous but not, so far, the UK, despite it being a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and a member of the UN Council of Human Rights.

The Right Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford; the Right Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough; the Right Rev Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester; the Right Rev Andrew Watson, Bishop of Aston; the Rev Dr Robert Innes, Bishop of Gibraltar; the Right Rev Robert Patterson, Bishop of Sodor and the Isle of Man; the Right Rev Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading; the Right Rev Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield; the Right Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester; the Right Rev CLive Gregory, Bishop of Wolverhampton; the Right Rev Mark Rylands, Bishop of Shrewsbury; the Right Rev Geoff Annas, Bishop of Stafford; the Right Rev Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester

Letter to The Times, Saturday 13 September 2014