Charles fears Christians will 'disappear' from Iraq within five years


The Prince of Wales has issued a dire warning about the future of Christians living in Iraq saying they will "disappear" within five years.

Charles told a gathering of UK-based clerics from Orthodox churches from the Middle East that "emergency help" at an international level was needed to avert the disaster.

In recent years Charles has been highlighting the plight of Middle Eastern Christians facing increased persecution, and at the event hosted by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, he also met Iraqis who have fled Islamic State rule.

Speaking at Archbishop House in central London about the threat to Christians in the Middle East he said: "Their suffering is symptomatic of a very real crisis which threatens the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth.

"In fact according to Aid to the Church in Need, which is a truly remarkable organisation, Christianity is on course to disappear from Iraq within five years unless emergency help is provided on a greatly increased scale at an international level.

"This affects us all, consequently the greatest challenge we face is how to ensure the spiritual and cultural heritage of Christianity in the Middle East is preserved for future generations."

Aid to the Church in Need is a charity working in 130 countries, helping Christians who are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need,

A spokesman for the organisation said around 250,000 Christians are still in Iraq but 100,000 of these have been displaced by fighting and the threat from Islamic State.