Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Anglican church in Baghdad, and his organization, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, have been on the front lines of helping displaced Iraqis survive in the midst of the Islamic State’s violent assault on the region.
White recently told TheBlaze that the conditions on the ground in Iraq are “absolutely horrendous,” noting that 250,000 Christians have been displaced from their homes in Mosul, Nineveh and other locations; this figure, he said, doesn’t include Yazidis, another minority group.
“They are sheltering in the north and the mountains. They have nothing,” White said. “They have lost their homes, they have lost their future. We are providing them with as much food as we can, as much help as we can.”
White, who continues to speak out about the plight of Christians and Yazidis in the region, said that the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation, a group he founded and runs, has staff on the ground in northern Iraq working to ensure people have what they need to survive.
As of Friday, he said his organization, which has 150 total staff members, including doctors, dentists and relief workers, had raised about a half million pounds (approximately $828,540) toward these efforts — money that had predominately come from British churches.
White went on to describe what the Islamic State — a group known for its violent and murderous tendencies — has done to Iraqi minorities aside from pushing them out of their homes.
“They have killed our people, they’ve killed our people, they’ve cut their heads off,” he said, describing how a young boy he once baptized was brutally murdered by Islamic militants.
White said that there’s no reasoning with the Islamic State, describing its members as “evil.”
“You cannot deal with these people. They’re so evil. You cannot talk to them You cannot win them over,” he said. “That is a terrible thing. How do we cope in this horrendous situation? How do we move forward?”
These are the very questions that the international community has been faced with as the United States and other nations consider the best path forward to halt the terror group’s advances.
As for White, he said it is paramount that the international community find a way to assist the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been forced from their homes with nowhere to go.
The faith leader also called on Christians around the world to take action to stem ”the biggest threat and persecution of Christians ever” by praying, donating and coming together.
“I would say that at this time — this terribly discord time — we need Christians to stand together around the world. I would not just say Christians, but all people of faith,” White said. “What we’re seeing now is like nothing that has been seen since the days of the Holocaust.”
White, who moved to Iraq in 1998, initially supported the U.S.-led war back in 2003, but now says that he was wrong. While he felt that Saddam Hussein was evil and needed to be removed, the resulting years have brought with them pain and suffering previously unforeseen under the dictator’s control.
“The problem is the U.S. was clearly responsible for Iraq pouring into hell. We didn’t have any of these problems before,” he said. “We did not live with these daily bombings and massacres and killings on the street.”
According to White, preparations weren’t made to properly train and engage with religious leaders in Iraq after the U.S. invasion — something he said would and should have been essential.
“When religion goes wrong, it goes very wrong,” he said. “And what happened after the war was religion went really, really wrong.”
As for the most recent U.S. airstrikes, White said he isn’t sure where he stands. If the assaults stop the Islamic State’s advances, he said that they are beneficial, but he expressed skepticism that the radical group will be stopped without some sort of plan on the ground to stem extremism.
White’s comments were made as the Islamic State continues its rampage in parts of Syria and Iraq, declaring a caliphate in the areas it has conquered.