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Vicar of Baghdad: "we will continue to work in Northern Iraq" despite UN report on "shocking" deaths

Tue 19 Jan 2016
By Hannah Tooley

The vicar of Baghdad, and an anti-persecution charity, working in Iraq has told Premier that United Nations (UN) estimates that around 18,800 people were killed between January 2014 and October 2015 are probably higher in reality. 

Canon Andrew White, Vicar of St George's Church in Baghdad, President of FRRME, tweeted in response to the report: "This UN report, published today, is truly shocking. Despite the risk, we will continue to work in Northern Iraq..."

John Newton from Aid to the Church in Need, a charity that helps persecuted Christians told Premier's News Hour that he expects the figures are higher in reality: "The UN said due to the problems gather statistics, that the figures may actually be even higher.

"And I think they're probably correct.

"When the dust settles and they're able to look into these situations, they'll find that although this figure is absolutely shocking, the figure is probably a lot higher than they currently think it is."

Islamic State is holding an estimated 3,500 women and children as slaves in Iraq, the United Nations says.

The report, compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that at least 18,800 people have been killed in Iraq between January 2014 and October 2015.

The United Nations has called this figure "staggering".

The report said around 3.2 million people are displaced internally over the same period.

It also commented that females are being specifically targeted: "ISIL [Islamic State] continued to subject women and children to sexual violence, particularly in the form of sexual slavery."

John Newton said that: "We're not talking about the conflict zone in the north of the country, we're talking about the stable south.

"For example there have been several bombs in market areas in predominately Shia neighbourhoods."

He said that he the definition of genocide is irrelevant at this time: "It all gets caught up in the definition, rather than people actually looking, saying 'something terrible is going on and something that needs an immediate reaction is happening here and we really need to get involved in these situations to get them happening here."

UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said: "Even the obscene casualty figures fail to accurately reflect exactly how terribly civilians are suffering in Iraq.

"The figures capture those who were killed or maimed by overt violence, but countless others have died from the lack of access to basic food, water or medical care."

Listen to Premier's Antony Bushfield speak to John Newton here:

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