Clwyd West AM Darren Millar this week spoke at an event for Christian charity Open Doors UK and Ireland, which supports Christians in parts of the world where they are persecuted for their faith.
During his talk, he reflected on a visit he made to Iraq with Open Doors last September where he met with Christians trying to rebuild their lives in the wake of ISIS.
On his return from Iraq, Darren, who is Chair of the Assembly Cross Party Group on Faith, said that the plight of Christians in the Middle East cannot be forgotten amidst the many other humanitarian crises that are ongoing in the world today.
Speaking following this week’s Open Doors event, he said:
“I first got involved with the campaign for Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq in 2017 when I held an event at the Senedd with Open Doors.
“I was greatly encouraged to see a large number of Assembly colleagues from across the party spectrum in attendance, but I couldn’t help but feel that I needed to do more than just raise awareness, so I was really pleased to be able to travel to Northern Iraq in September to find out what more could be done.
“The crisis that’s been unfolding in the Middle East is like nothing we’ve seen before. Yet courageous Christians have chosen to stay in their homelands to shine the light of Christ - despite the most intense persecution and the attempts of extremists to drive the church out. At this week’s event I spoke about my experience in Iraq and why it is vital that we do not forget their plight.
“In 1910, Christians made up 6.3% of Iraq’s population but this had fallen to just 1.4% by 2010. Today, Open Doors estimates that just 200,000 Christians remain, half the number left in the country at the time of Saddam Hussain’s fall.”
He added: “To ignore what goes on in Iraq brings the risk of a resurgence of violence in the future. But with appropriate support vulnerable religious minorities can thrive and play their part in rebuilding and returning to their nation.
“The Welsh Government could consider releasing human resources and talent from our NHS to serve in trauma centres there. And we must play our part, raising awareness, calling for action, and releasing our resources to support organisations like Open Doors and others who are helping to bring hope to the Middle East.”