Canada sending $5M in humanitarian aid to Iraq
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, August 10, 2014 3:10PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 10, 2014 5:14PM EDT
The Canadian government is sending $5 million in additional emergency supplies and humanitarian aid to Iraq.
Canada's assistance package will include shipments of food, medicine, cooking materials, blankets, tents, hygiene kits and other essential supplies to help an estimated 850,000 displaced Iraqis, it said in a statement. Canada will also help repair essential water and sanitation facilities, as well as improve access to information for the country's citizens.
"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," International Development Minister Christian Paradis said in the statement.
The $5 million in aid will be distributed through three relief organizations. The first $2.25 million will be divided up between the International Red Cross, Mercy Corps and Save the Children Canada, with the remaining funds to be distributed in consultation with Iraqi officials.
"This is building on money that we have already contributed to Iraq," MP Lois Brown told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
Canada has sent Iraq a total of $16 million in humanitarian aid since the beginning of 2014, with $6.8 million dedicated to helping victims of civil unrest, and $9.5 million earmarked for helping Syrian refugees.
Brown, the parliamentary secretary for the Minister of International Cooperation, said Canada takes a special interest in Iraq because more than 18,200 Iraqi refugees have settle in Canada since 2013, and those new Canadians are worried about their homeland.
"We have seen a vibrant Iraqi community here, and those people are very concerned about their family back home," Brown said.
Iraq has fallen into a state of bitter strife since Sunni militants calling themselves militants of the Islamic State group began seizing territory there earlier this year.
The al Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists have taken and held a large portion of northern Iraq and part of Syria, where they've driven out, killed or forcibly converted all non-Sunni civilians who live there.
Brown said it's time for Canada to step in and help Iraq. "The Canadian government condemns in the strongest terms the violent act of this terrorist group that is killing innocent civilians," she said.
The Islamic State's most recent targets have been the Yazidi, a little-known religious group living in Iraq's Kurdish north. The Islamic State forces attacked the Yazidi town of Sinjar and drove tens of thousands of people into the mountains earlier this week.
Many of those Yazidi remain surrounded and trapped on the mountainside, where they face death by starvation, dehydration or exposure.
Kurdish fighters and U.S. airstrikes allowed some of the Yazidi to break through the Islamic State siege on the weekend. Thousands of Yazidi have fled across the Syrian border or taken refuge in Kurdish-held territory.
On Sunday, Iraqi officials said 500 Yazidis have been killed by Islamic State forces near Sinjar. Many of the dead were women and children, some of whom were buried alive, they said.