Australia Urged To Accept Iraqi And Syrian Refugees; Church Leaders Call For Christian Protection

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By Reissa Su | August 14, 2014 5:23 PM EST

The Australian government may be considering the acceptance of as much as 4000 Iraqis and Syrians as refugees after the Anglican Bishop of Melbourne called for their protection.

Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah
A Christian woman, who fled from the violence in Mosul two days ago, holds her daughter as her baby sleeps at a school in Arbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region June 27, 2014.

The new Anglican Primate of Australia, Philip Freier, wrote to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to follow France in offering persecuted Christians asylum as they face imminent death if they will not convert to Islam.

According to reports, the Anglican Church leader's plea was supported by the Archibishop of Canterbury, the Most Revered Justin Welby, as members of the religious minorities escape the clutches of Islamic militant group, ISIS.

Last week, Archbishop Welby had called on the British government to open its borders for Iraqi Christians. He denounced the mass killings of Christians in northern Iraq and called it "off the scale of human horror."

A spokesperson for Morrison said the foreign minister continues to monitor the situation in Iraq and considers options for humanitarian aid.

As announced in the budget, Australia's Special Humanitarian Program has allotted 20,000 places for five years to help the asylum seekers who are most in need of protection. In 2013, the spokesperson said Syrian refugees were allocated 1,000 places.

Freier acknowledged the Abbott government's "rapid response" in providing assistance to the people of Iraq. He asked Mr Abbott to go one step further and offer asylum to people facing the threat of genocide.

Reports said more than 1.2 million Iraqis and 200,000 Syrians were forced to leave their homes due to persecution. Freier reported that at least 200,000 people have been displaced in the last two weeks. He appealed to the Australian government to help aid agencies that can no longer cope with the influx of refugees.

ISIS militants have moved on from beheading to burying women and children alive in mass graves. Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani accused ISIS of mass killings and claimed authorities have "striking evidence." Children who have sought refuge from the violence have reportedly died of thirst.

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(Photo: Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah / )
A Christian woman, who fled from the violence in Mosul two days ago, holds her daughter as her baby sleeps at a school in Arbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region June 27, 2014.
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