Flanagan backs EU meeting on crisis in Iraq

Emergency talks on humanitarian aid welcomed by Minister for Foreign Affairs

   Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan announced that the Government would provide emergency funding of €500,000 to help the Yazidi and Christian communities being targeted by Islamic extremists in Iraq.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan announced that the Government would provide emergency funding of €500,000 to help the Yazidi and Christian communities being targeted by Islamic extremists in Iraq.

Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 01:00

The decision to call an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels today to discuss the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq has been welcomed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

He said EU high representative Catherine Ashton was right to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council today.

“Last week I wrote to high representative Ashton and Italian foreign minister Mogherini calling for Iraq, Gaza, and Libya to be discussed amongst EU foreign ministers.

“The meeting will present an extremely timely opportunity to discuss and formulate a strong and unified EU response to the terror that is gripping northern Iraq,” said Mr Flanagan.

Militant group

He said that he was extremely concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis, in particular about the threat posed to minorities, women, and children, in the wake of the advances by the militant group Islamic State, formerly known as Isis.

“I, along with the Irish people, remain gravely concerned about the situation in Gaza. I welcome and encourage the talks being held in Cairo, but a sustainable and lasting solution must be found.

“I look forward to speaking with my EU colleagues on these issues, as well as the humanitarian impact that we are seeing as a result of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine,” said the Minister.

Earlier he announced that the Government would provide emergency funding of €500,000 to help the Yazidi and Christian communities being targeted by Islamic extremists in Iraq.

He said the decision was a response to the plight of the 30,000 minority Yazidi civilians displaced in the vicinity of Mount Sinjar and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons.

The Government will provide €250,000 to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and a further €250,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to support their emergency response activities in Northern Iraq, where thousands have fled the advances of the Islamic State.

The contribution to Unicef will meet the most immediate life-saving needs of children and women at risk of violence, displacement, dehydration, and starvation. The funding to the ICRC will support provision of food and essential household items, as well as by improving the availability of water and healthcare.

“The plight of the most vulnerable – particularly, children, women and elderly people – is increasingly desperate, and Ireland is doing all it can to provide urgent life-saving assistance.

“Children are the most at risk and worst affected by violence and displacement,” said Mr Flanagan.

He added that Ireland condemned in the strongest possible way the deliberate attacks on Iraqi civilians and he called on all parties to the conflict to ensure safe passage of displaced populations and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The Minister said that he had been discussing with his Cabinet colleague Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, ways in which Ireland could offer refuge to a number of families whose lives have been devastated by this appalling violence and oppression.

Ireland’s role

“We are both anxious that Ireland plays its part and Minister Fitzgerald has agreed that Ireland will provide refuge to a number of families fleeing the violence being perpetrated by Isis in northern Iraq.

“I remain extremely concerned about the overall plight of Christian and other minority communities in Iraq and the threat they face from extremists groups such as Isis.

“Ireland will continue to press for effective action on this issue in all relevant international fora, including the EU and UN,” he said.