London (AFP) - Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leader of the world's Anglicans, said Friday the forced exodus in northern Iraq was part of an "evil pattern" of Christians being "persecuted for their faith".
The Church of England leader said Britain should open its doors to refugees fleeing the jihadist Islamic State advances and urged the international community to challenge the "culture of impunity" allowing the extremists' actions to take place.
"The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering," Welby said in a statement.
"What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people's right to freedom of religion and belief.
"It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom's doors should be open to refugees."
He called for the international community to document rights abuses to aid future prosecutions, challenging the "culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place".
He added: "We must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith."
The archbishop recalled incidents in Nigeria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
"We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time," he said.
Welby issued the statement on his website, shortly before travelling from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.
Meanwhile Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic leader in England and Wales, urged the British government to lead efforts to "help restore these shattered communities, provide them with urgent humanitarian aid and work with others to ensure their long term security" in their "biblical homelands".