The Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, has written to Gloucestershire’s MPs demanding action over the persecution of Christians in Iraq.
Bishop Martyn has called for more to be done to help bring humanitarian aid to religious minorities in the country, following attacks by the Islamic State.
All six of the county’s Members of Parliament have been sent the letter, asking them to raise the issue with the Secretary of State for International Development amid failings by the British Government to protect those facing persecution.
He said: “I am deeply concerned by the gross human rights abuses being committed and the thousands of religious and ethnic minorities being displaced from their ancestral homes. The forced and bloody exodus of Christians and other religious minorities underlines most graphically that freedom of religion and belief is being denied in the most violent and systemic way possible.
“I welcome the humanitarian steps the Government has taken to date, but I fear that our collective efforts are failing those most in need.
“The level of humanitarian aid must be increased significantly and its delivery must be accelerated. No effort should be spared to protect all groups forcefully displaced by this conflict. The Government should follow the example set by other European governments and make provision to provide asylum to those that are unable to return to their homes for fear of persecution and death.”
His call comes as the Diocese of Gloucester prepares to mark its connections with fellow Christians overseas on Sunday 7 September.
Special links have been forged between the Diocese of Gloucester and a number of dioceses abroad, including churches in India, Tanzania, Sweden and America. The diocese will be honouring these links with a day of worship and prayer, culminating in a special International Partnership Service in Gloucester Cathedral at 3pm. They will also be praying for Christians in Iraq and Syria.