Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Comment on the crisis in Northern Iraq - Douglas Alexander

Douglas Alexander MP, Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, commenting on the crisis in Northern Iraq, said:

"Iraq today faces an acute internal security challenge, as extremist violent Islamist militants attempt to destabilise the government, terrorise the population, and divide the country

"ISIL's violent and brutal campaign to terrorise and persecute religious minorities, including Christians, has already caused the death and suffering of thousands of innocent civilians across Iraq.

"Just as we previously encouraged the Government to do more to provide refuge for ‎the victims of the Syrian conflict, Labour now urges the UK Government to think again about how the international community can provide greater assistance to people - including many Christians and Yazidi - being persecuted by ISIL in Iraq today.

"The Church here in Britain should be applauded for raising the profile of this appalling suffering and persecution.

"The British Government should be speaking up, speaking out, and acting quickly to ensure that the international community does not simply walk by on the other side as this persecution increases.

"The desperate plight of refugees who are members of the ancient Yazidi religious sect, today trapped without food or water on Mount Sinjar, is an acute and immediate catastrophe reflecting the broader crisis in Iraq today.

"The Iraqi Government has asked for help. The UN Security Council has urged the world to act, and the United States has unique abilities to help avert massacre.

"President Obama was right to authorise limited air strikes to prevent the slaughter of these terrified and vulnerable people, and to support the humanitarian air drops of food and water.

"The UK government has previously offered urgent humanitarian aid to help support Iraq's people, and provided limited counter-terror assistance to the Iraqi Government. Labour has welcomed both these steps and would urge the UK Government to continue to offer that assistance to Iraq in the crucial days ahead.

"International action is vital to help prevent a brutal and horrific escalation, but it will be the Iraqi's themselves, with international support, who hold the key to tackling this current crisis in the long term which will only be resolved by political reconciliation of Iraq's communities and a strengthening of Iraq's security forces."