Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about help for returning displaced Christians in Iraq

On 24th October 2017, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, repeated a Government statement on the liberation of Raqqa. The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his statement and point out that the Christian presence in Iraq is integral to that country’s cultural identity. A reconstruction committee composed of Chaldean, Syriac and Syriac Orthodox churches has restored over 1,700 properties, but that will restore fewer than a quarter of internationally displaced people. What can the Government do to help those displaced Christians to return safely to that space, like Jonah returning to Nineveh, a place where they belong and are called? How can the Government support them in that process where there is a real threat in terms of faith?

 Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate is right to raise the issue of minorities and particularly the Christian minorities in Syria.
The crimes committed in Aleppo have been a tragic example of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. I revert to the point I made earlier that any support that the British Government give to those returning is done to ensure their safety and security.
We have begun to do exactly that in ensuring that, in the areas where people are returning, medical facilities are available including to all minorities who have been displaced.
Let us not forget that over 50% of the Syrian population has been displaced. It will take time to ensure that they can return to their homes. Underlining our approach, both safety and security must prevail.



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