Archbishops of Canterbury and Melbourne joint statement on Iraq
Thursday 14th August 2014
The press conference took place at The Chapter House at St Paul's Cathedral before the inauguration of Archbishop Philip Freier as the Anglican Primate of Australia.
Archbishop Justin Welby said:
"Ever since the war to end all wars ended in 1918, humankind have been saying “never again”, then we wring our hands as genocide unfolds in some distant corner. But what is happening right now in northern Iraq is off the scale of human horror.
"In a globalised world where even distant nations are our “neighbour”, we cannot allow these atrocities to be unleashed with impunity. And while the behaviour of the ISIS jihadis in Syria and northern Iraq is particularly savage, it is also part of rising and increasingly serious persecution of Christians and other groups in many countries.
"These [jihadi] groups are, rightly, rejected by the vast majority of Muslims. The struggle being faced is one for a world that can cope with diversity, and disagree without destruction. ISIS, Boko Haram and their equivalents seek only destruction for their own ends.
"The international community must document the human rights abuses in northern Iraq so that the perpetrators can later be prosecuted.
"As Anglican leaders, we cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world, and especially for Christians and other minority groups suffering so deeply in northern Iraq."
Archbishop Philip Freier said:
"As Anglican Primate of Australia, I have written to the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott, appreciating Australia’s rapid response in providing aid to the displaced thousands in Iraq. I have asked him to emulate France in offering asylum to the Christians of northern Iraq who are facing forced conversion or death. I have also written to the Immigration Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, making the same request.
"I have also launched an appeal through Anglican Overseas Aid to help provide succour and relief for those fleeing the ISIS fighters. It is reported that more than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee, plus another 200,000 Syrians who have sought refuge in northern Iraq. More than 200,000 people have been displaced in the past fortnight, including all the residents of Iraq's largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, and a large number of the Yazidi minority group.
"Aid agencies cannot cope with the influx, and the suffering is immense. The refugees need food, water, clothes, medical supplies and much more. I ask Anglicans and others to give sacrificially."