Send in troops to defeat Islamic State says 'vicar of Baghdad' Andrew White

Britain must send ground troops to Syria to have any hope of defeating Islamic State, according to leading peace-maker Canon Andrew White.

Canon White has gone from being Vicar of Baghdad to being a pastor without denomination or church building ministering to a community of Iraqi Christian refugees in Amman, Jordan.

Canon Andrew White, Vicar of Baghdad, under siege from Islamic StateFRME

The call from him for the UK to go to war is particularly powerful because, from his time at Coventry Cathedral where he worked for the man he still answers to, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, he has built his life and purpose around bringing and making peace in the Middle East. 

At a breakfast at the Carlton Club in London he told Christian Today: "There is one way to overcome ISIS. It is not bombing from the sky. We need troops on the ground to bring about a change. They are so evil, so terrible. They have done terrible things to the Christian community."

He called for Britain to take in some of the Christian refugees from the region. "We have said we will take 20,000 Syrian refugees but how many are Christian? If we just take in refugees from the camps we won't take any Christians. I am not against Muslims coming in. It is not just Christians who need help and care, Muslims need help as well. I feel passionately about my Muslim friends. But we cannot sideline the Christians, and that is what we are doing."

He said he wonders whether Christianity even has a future in the region. 

"The big question is, will there be Christians in the Middle East in five years. Christianity will probably survive. It has been through so much. But this is the hardest thing it has been through."

He is currently based in Amman, Jordan, with some of the Iraqi Christians from his parish of St George's Baghdad who fled. Many of the Iraqi Christians who have fled to Jordan were among the 200,000 Christians who escaped Mosul, the city White refers to by the name of the ancient city of Nineveh, whose ruins lie nearby and which was seized by Islamic State last year. 

Refugee schoolchildren from Iraq being educated by the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East.FRME

At the start of a two-week tour to launch his new autobiography, Andrew White, My Journey So Far, published by Lion, he said: "I am desperate to get back." His people need him, he said. He came to London via Canada, where some of the Iraqis were able to escape to after relatives out there helped them secure visas. But conditions there are "awful" because "Canada does nothing for them." Being from Iraq, not Syria, they are not seen as refugees in the same way.

"Most of our people in Jordan have lost everything, their loved ones, homes and families."

He now has no church building. His exiled congregation meets in a school. "It is the best church I have ever had," he said.The charity Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East, funded 80 per cent from the UK and 20 per cent from the US, pays for their accommodation, health care, education and food. All the profits from his book will go to the charity. About 300 children attend the school, staffed by teachers from Iraq, all unpaid volunteers because they are not allowed to work in Jordan.