Christianity might become extinct in Iraq within 5 years, warns UK charity group

Children from a displaced family in Iraq, living in Ozal City camp, Erbil, with the eldest holding her newborn baby sister. Families are living on an average of 30 persons per house inside the camp.(ACNUK.ORG)

The English charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is very concerned that Christianity might be wiped off completely in Iraq within five years. The group believes that "emergency help" is needed to provide support and relief to persecuted Christians.

"At a time when numbers of displaced and refugees hit an all-time high, Islamist groups have carried out religiously-motivated ethnic cleansing of Christians notably in parts of Africa and the Middle East. If this continues, the Church's survival in these regions is threatened," the organisation said in a report.

Because it is no longer safe for Christians to live in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries where people of similar faith are being punished, brutally killed and tortured, the ACN fears that "the Church is being silenced and driven out of its ancient biblical heartland."

Their report, which was presented to the UK House of Lords, prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to offer support even as he praised the ACN's work and report for raising awareness on the issue.

"No believer should have to live in fear, and this is why (the British) government is committed to promoting religious freedom and tolerance at home and around the world," he said. "It is also why the work of organisations such as Aid to the Church in Need is so crucial. This report serves as a voice for the voiceless, from their prison cells and the places far from home where they have sought refuge."

According to Charisma News, Assyrian Christians living in Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria are fleeing in droves because they are the ones who are persecuted heavily by jihadist groups such as the Islamic State.

Even Christians living in Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, and other parts of Africa are now in danger because of the rise of militant Islamist groups in their areas. "The decline of Christianity in many countries of concern has potentially profound significance regarding prospects for peace as Christians have traditionally been important 'peace builders' in society," the ACN said.