1.5 million Christians have fled Iraq in an exodus that could lead to the extinction of the faith in the land
As many as 1.5 million Christians have fled Iraq since the rise of Islamic State, according to an Iraqi MP.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Christian lawyer Josef Sleve said that just 14 years ago, there had been nearly two milliion Christians in Iraq.
There are now between 500,000 and 850,000.
'This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries," said Sleve.
The exodus began after the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a coalition including forces from the US, Australia, the UK and Poland. But most fled the terrors of Islamic State, which wants to wipe out Christians and is notorious for its executions by beheading.
The Chaldean Patriarch Sako of Baghdad has warned that the exodus could mean the end of Chritianity in Iraq.
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III also said in 2015: 'Given this tsunami of emigration...what future is left for the Church? What will become of our homeland? What will become of our parishes and institutions?'
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, currently visiting Jordan and the Holy Land, said this week that refugees have had their lives 'torn apart'.
He said: 'People are divided from their children and families and have no idea what will happen. One woman has children in both Germany and the Netherlands, but has been refused entry to both so she doesn't know when or if they will ever be reunited.
'Young men are vulnerable to being recruited to extremist causes because their community and networks have been stripped away.
'The Iraqi Christians I met yesterday say they feel the world has forgotten them, because the focus of the international community is now on Syria. Iraqis, they say, are at the bottom of the list when it comes to resettlement or support.'