As the U.S. carries out air strikes against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, Canada is delivering $5 million of humanitarian aid to the country. The money will fund new assistance projects, and half of the aid money will immediately go to three of the Canadian government’s on-ground humanitarian partners – the International Red Cross, Mercy Corps and Save the Children Canada.
International Development Minister Christian Paradis said that the contribution will be allocated to food distribution, cooking materials, blankets, tents, hygiene kits and other needed supplies, and will also be used to improve the citizens’ information access and repair essential water and sanitation facilities. Canada’s assistance will reach approximately 850,000 displaced Iraqis.
The prime minister’s office condemned the anti-Christian attacks, made by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, previously known in Iraq as Al Qaeda. Ottawa declared ISIS a terrorist organization in 2012. Thousands of Iraq’s minorities have fled from their homes in fear of the extremist Sunni militants, who have violently and forcefully seized large sections of northern Iraq. ISIS fighters have expelled significant numbers of Iraq’s Christian and Shiite Muslim population, viewing these other religious assemblies as heretical groups to be executed or brutally ruled.
“Canada continues to stand by the people of Iraq in these difficult times and condemns the terrorist actions of ISIS and the killing of innocent civilians in northern Iraq in the strongest possible terms,” said Paradis.
The three trusted on-ground organizations will receive an immediate $2.25 million, with the International Red Cross getting $1 million, Save the Children receiving $750,000 and Mercy Corps attaining $500,000. The remaining $2.75 million will be distributed to other units after Canada confers with its partners in Iraq.
“Canada will continue working closely with our allies to determine how we can best continue to support the needs of Iraqi civilians, particularly religious minorities,” said Paradis.
Since the beginning of the year, Canada has delivered $16 million of aid to Iraq, as the country is a recent addition to Canada’s development country partners. $9.5 million was dedicated to helping refugees of the Syrian crisis, while $6.8 million was allocated to victims of civil unrest.
According to Lois Brown, the parliamentary secretary for the Minister of International Cooperation, Canada is particularly attentive to Iraq’s affairs because almost 20,000 Iraqi refugees have flocked to Canada since last year.
“We have seen a vibrant Iraqi community here, and those people are very concerned about their family back home,” said Brown. “The Canadian government condemns in the strongest terms the violent acts of this terrorist group that is killing innocent civilians.”
– Annie Jung