Iraqi Christian Leader to Trump: 'We Need Your Help Now'
A prominent Iraqi Christian leader is pleading with President Trump to help his countrymen rebuild after the war with the Islamic State.
"We need more than words, it's time for action," said Bashar Warda, the Catholic archbishop of Erbil.
Warda says about 14,000 homes belonging to Christian families in Nineveh province were destroyed or damaged as a result of fighting with ISIS militants.
He estimates it will take about $262 million to rebuild homes, roads and restore water and electricity to the province.
"The Iraqi government had said … that we don't have money," Warda told Yahoo News.
He's turning to the White House for help.
"We need your help now, not tomorrow, not to think about it, not to consult your adviser — with all my respect," Warda pleaded.
More than a month after Vice President Mike Pence admitted in a speech that "Christians and persecuted peoples of the Middle East have not been getting the relief they need" and made a pledge to change that, Warda says the aid has yet to reach those communities most affected.
"The delay is not helping us," Warda said.
Some 100,000 Iraqi Christians escaped Nineveh shortly before ISIS took control of the town. Most of them fled north finding safe haven among the Kurds.
But now a retired U.S. general worries Iran's growing influence, especially in Kurdistan, could threaten the existence of Iraq's Christians.
"I think they are in danger unless we prevent the Iranians from controlling the Kurdish north," Lt. Gen. Jay Garner told CBN News. "If we (America) step in and support the Kurds then we protect them and the Christians will remain there."
"If we don't do that, then the Kurds will have no choice but to become Iranian proxies and once that happens the Christians will have to leave," Garner added.
Iraq was home to over 1.5 million Christians before war plunged the country into a bloody sectarian conflict in 2003.
Estimates are that roughly 200,000 Christians remain in Iraq and the Kurdistan region, with many having fled to neighboring Lebanon, Europe and the United States.