Vicar of Baghdad: 'Every Single Christian Wants to Leave’

Lauretta Brown | September 29, 2014 | 12:53pm EDT
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Rev. Canon Andrew White, the "vicar of Baghdad". (Canon Andrew's Blog)

( – Rev. Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, warned Monday morning on Facebook that terrorists from “the Islamic State are on the verge of entering Baghdad.”

“The Islamic State are now less than 2km (1.2 miles) away from entering Baghdad. They said it could never happen and now it almost has,” White’s organization, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, said on its updated Facebook page Monday.

“We do not really know what is happening all we know is that people are very afraid we know that civilians have been killed in air strikes we know that there are huge battles with ISIS and we know that our army is not very efficient," the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq posted on Facebook.

“President Obama is saying that he overestimated the ability of the Iraqi Army. It is so clear they have no ability. A hard thing to say but its true,” he said.

“To be honest, every single Christian wants to leave,” White previously told the U.K. Telegraph on Saturday after returning to Baghdad following a brief visit to the U.S. and the U.K. for medical treatment.

“I used to say to my people: ‘Don’t you leave. I’m not going to leave you, don’t leave me,’” he said. “But now every one of them wants to leave and the ones who are left tend to be the poorer ones who couldn’t get away earlier.”

White added that over 1,000 Iraqi troops have been killed by ISIS. “Things are so bad,” he emphasized. “As I said all the military air strikes are doing nothing. If ever we needed your prayer it is now.”

Canon White described the situation as “sad,” adding: "Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years. All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away."

St. George's Church in Baghdad, the only Anglican church in Iraq. (Canon Andrew's Blog)

White spoke of the fears that the province’s Christians had about “what has happened to their community up in the north… Some have relatives who have lost everything: their homes, furniture, cars. They have nothing left at all," he explained.

He added that while the people he had spoken to in Iraq saw the need for air strikes, they were also afraid of civilian casualties.

He admitted that he felt conflicted on whether or not Britain should put boots on the ground.

“From the Iraqi point of view, the only way we can gain some kind of real safety and real removal of the Islamic State, as they call themselves, would be by having troops on the ground.

“But from a British point of view, I wouldn’t want our troops in Iraq, where they could be killed. So it is a difficult situation all round.”

“There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, and now we’re down to 300,000,” White said in an address to Christians in New York City while he was in the U.S. this past month.

“They have been killed, beaten, and harassed, their houses have been defaced, their churches vandalized. What is happening now is worse than anything that has happened before,” White said of the plight of Iraqi Christians.

“These people have suffered so much, and they say, 'We’re finished, we’ve got nothing'.”

“I don’t think there will be any Christians in Iraq,” White said of the future. "Even if ISIS is defeated, Christians probably won’t go back because their neighbors didn’t defend them."

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