The humanitarian crisis in Iraq looks certain to get worse before it gets better,” said David Shearer Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
“New Zealand should urgently pledge increased humanitarian assistance to United Nations agencies and NGOs present on the ground.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are running in fear of the advancing Islamic State forces, an extremist Jihadi group that has been ruthless towards all who are not strict Sunni Muslim.
“They include people from the minority Yasidi sect, who have been caught on the mountain side in northern Iraq.
“US airstrikes, that appear to be happening with Iraqi and Kurdish support – have been supporting Kurdish forces on the ground and most importantly, protecting Yasidi families who are exposed.
“While not a long-term solution, airstrikes are needed to protect those vulnerable people and ensure there are safe areas in which people can take refuge.
“It is clear that the number of people on the move is large and growing. Most are en route to current safety in the Kurdish autonomous zone in the north of Iraq.
“Who will meet the basic needs of this massive group when they arrive?
“New Zealand must support the agencies currently present in the Kurdish autonomous zone to ensure preparations are in place,” says David Shearer.
“We also support the announcement of new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and encourage a more inclusive government, particularly towards Kurds and Iraqi Sunni Muslims than outgoing Nouri al-Maliki whose sectarian approach aggravated tensions within Iraq.”
Contact: David Shearer 021 270 4010
Authorised by David Shearer, Parliament Buildings, Wellington