Christianity driven from its biblical heartland due to a massive exodus could disappear from Iraq potentially within five years, says a report presented to the upper chamber of the UK Parliament.
The Catholic Organization, Aid to the Church in Need U.K has released a report titled "Persecuted and Forgotten?
The report on "Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-2015" exposes rapid growth of Christian persecution in countries such as China, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia over the last two years.
It was presented to the UK Parliament's House of Lords by its compilers ACNUK members John Pontifex, John Newton and Clare Creegan.
"Over the last 48 months the situation for Christians has become worse in countries including, China and Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria.
"These are countries that show a massive deterioration of the position for Christians and indeed other minorities," Pontifex, told Vatican radio last week.
The report says: "The fear of genocide – in many cases well founded – has prompted an exodus of Christians, notably from the Middle East and parts of Africa
"As a result of this exodus, Christianity is on course to disappear from Iraq within possibly five years – unless emergency help is provided on a massively increased scale at an international level."
Pontifex said that the number of countries which seem extreme in terms of Christian persecution climbed from six to 10 within the last two years.
The report examines the extent to which Christians have been forced from their homelands due to what is described "as religiously motivated ethnic cleansing of Christians," Pontifex said in his radio interview.
Speakers at the launch of the report in London included Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, and UK Foreign Office Minister, Tobias Ellwood MP, who has responsibility for the Middle East.
TEENAGER WHO ESCAPED FROM BOKO HARAM
Amongst those witnesses of persecution who gave testimony was teenager, Victoria Youhanna, who escaped Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria, and Timothy who has experienced persecution in North Korea.
Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo wrote in the Foreword to the report:
"In my Diocese of Aleppo, in northern Syria, we are on the front-line of this suffering. My own cathedral has been bombed six times and is now unusable.
"My home has also been hit more than 10 times. We are facing the rage of an extremist jihad; we may disappear soon.
"In both Syria and Iraq, Christian communities—along with other vulnerable minorities - are defenceless against assaults by Daesh (ISIS).
"We are the prime target of the so-called caliphate's religious cleansing campaign.
"Across the region, Christians and other minorities are often caught up in the fighting, facing calamities as they are displaced, with scant provisions for shelter, food, and medical assistance. Truly we are 'reckoned as sheep for the slaughter.'"
The report said, "Totalitarian regimes such as those in China and North Korea have put Christians under pressure due to the perception that Christianity is linked to the West, seen as corrupt and exploitative by communist States."