Below is a reflection of British Ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker, entitled ‘Helping Christians in Iraq.’ Published on June 5th, it is from Ambassador Baker’s blog available on the British Embassy to the Holy See Website:
One of the benefits of being accredited to the Holy See is the possibility of listening and speaking to people from across the global Catholic Church who visit Rome to do business at the Vatican. This is useful for the UK, because I can often glean information not available elsewhere in our foreign policy network, which in turn improves our understanding of – and opens up possibilities for cooperation on – issues at the top of our international concerns.
An example was a discussion I had this week with Monsignor Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil in the Kurdish region of Iraq. He was in Rome to meet the Pope and senior Holy See officials, and discuss with the organisation Aid to the Church in Need how to support the large numbers of Christian and other refugees taking shelter in Erbil having been displaced from their homeland by ISIL, or Daesh.
The United Kingdom believes in standing up for the freedom of people of all religions to practise their beliefs in peace and safety, including the Christians of the Middle East. Archbishop Warda is clear about the need to support the ancient Christian communities in Iraq so that they can eventually return to their own homes in safety – not, he says, as a symbol of the past, but because of the need for them to be involved in the future rebuilding of Iraq. Supporters include The Prince of Wales who, alongside the Pope, has donated money to provide for the well-being of the refugees and their families.
The UK is one of the principal members of the anti-ISIL coalition, and one of the main providers of humanitarian aid to Iraq. Through a comprehensive military, political, diplomatic and development strategy, with our allies we are determined to do what we can to ensure that ISIL is defeated and Iraq able to rebuild. On 4 June, the International Development Secretary announced a further tranche of UK humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable Iraqis.
It is a privilege for me to be able to meet brave people, like Archbishop Warda, living and working on the front line in the midst of crisis. I salute him, and all those struggling to support the displaced refugees of war in Iraq and Syria. Many dedicate their lives to this service because of their faith and their belief in the need to play a role in forging the better days to come. It is incumbent upon us to help them, because it is in them that the future of their country lies.
On the NET:
To the original post on Ambassador Baker’s blog: http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/nigelbaker/2015/06/05/helping-christians-in-iraq/