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MP says UK government hasn't done enough for Iraqi Christians

Wed 23 Aug 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

A number of Christian parliamentarians have rallied together in support of Iraqi Christians to return home after violent conflict.

Many Christians fled violence from ISIS in the past three years and are still living in refugee camps.

Second Church Estates Commissioner Dame Caroline Spelman is one of those who've signed a letter to the UK Secretary of State for International Development.

She told Premier they've asked for more emergency funds for Christians who lost their homes and are afraid to return to their roots in the Nineveh Plains.

They've also stood up for Yazidis, a small ethno-religious group from the Nineveh Plains who were sold into slavery.

She said: "This is a minority community that has been very badly persecuted, yet historically is a long established community in this part of the Middle East.

"It would be an absolute tragedy if they were not able to return to the place which is their home."

She added although the UK government has spent more than £209.5 million on humanitarian aid in Iraq and has created the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), ministers need to focus on how the money is being used.

Spelman, who's also a Conservative MP for Meriden, claimed those being cared for by churches and faith-based charities have not received sufficient support.

Dame Caroline Spelman

 

She said: "As we set about helping the Iraqi people recover from the occupation and the destruction, it needs to be clear from the absolute outset that religious minorities are going to be protected.

"We need to be sure that religious minorities are in receipt of this assistance that they need and the treatment of the minorities is impartial, fair and equal. That's what we've called on in the letter."

Spelman told Premier that it is a Christian's responsibility to stand up for "our brothers and sisters who are in trouble".

Speaking on how the Church can help, she said: "Pray for a softening of the heart in Iraq towards the religious minorities in their midst.

"There is no question that the pressure is coming from the UK as a major donor to achieve that, but this requires the hearts to change as well as the minds.

"Pray for there to be cohesion and safety for the religious minorities in Iraq, they will only return when they feel it's safe and they're welcome and that's what we need to pray for."

Spelman hopes to gain progress on the issue during a meeting on 12th September with Lord Bates and Alistair Burt who are both ministers at the Department for International Development.

Listen to Dame Caroline Spelman speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe:


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