Iraqi refugees wait to receive aid distributed by international organisations in Damascus
On the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by US and UK forces, the Methodist Church has spoken out against the war in Iraq and its devastating human cost.
“The war in Iraq has been far more costly in terms of lives lost than anyone could have imagined,” said the Methodist Church’s Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, Anthea Cox, who also paid tribute to British troops and chaplains serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We are acutely aware of the appalling death toll of Iraqi civilians as the country struggles to contain the violence,” she added.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and millions displaced since the start of the war, which has cost the US $500bn and the lives of nearly 4,000 of its soldiers.
According to estimates from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) released on Tuesday, close to one in five of Iraq’s population at the time of the invasion, or 2.4 million, are now living as internally displaced people or abroad as refugees.
"There is very little light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq's humanitarian crisis," IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya told a news briefing in Geneva. "Conditions for the displaced, the refugees, have been getting steadily worse."
The Methodist Church pointed to the mixed feelings among Britons over the Iraq war, saying that it was right that people continue to challenge its legitimacy five years on. “Following the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq many more people now question whether the invasion was justified and whether this was the only course open to us,” said Ms Cox.
“It is right that such questions should still be asked today.”