Iraq's Christians fear spread of Israel-Hamas war

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Already suffering Christians in Iraq may quit the country if the war in the Holy Land engulfs the region, an archbishop there has warned.

The small Christian community in Iraq has been hard hit by years of war in its own country as well as extreme poverty and years of terror caused by ISIS.

If the Israel-Hamas conflict reaches Iraq, it may trigger more migration out of the country, says the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda.

He expressed his fears about yet more war in the region to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). 

"People [in Iraq] are really afraid that the violence will spread beyond Gaza," he said. 

"Speaking on behalf of all the people – especially the minorities, who tend to suffer more than others, especially in conflict situations – please God, no more war."

It is estimated that the Christian population in Iraq has fallen from 1.2 million before 2002 to just 150,000 today. If everyone leaves, this will have huge ramifications for the church in Iraq, says the archbishop. 

"For us as a Church, if you do not have the people around you what's the point of having any structures? We are not like an NGO. We are dependent on the presence of the people," he said.

Archbishop Warda is pleading with leaders to do all they can to "calm the situation" as he warned that both Syria and Iraq remain volatile.

"God forbid that this war goes beyond what we have been seeing of late," he said. "The settling of old scores would endanger the social cohesion in the whole region. The situation in Syria is not settled, nor has it settled in Iraq."