THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
THE HON CHRIS BOWEN MP
MEMBER FOR MCMAHON
THE HON CHRIS HAYES MP
CHIEF OPPOSITION WHIP
MEMBER FOR FOWLER
LABOR BACKS IRAQI CHRISTIAN CALLS FOR SUPPORT
WEDNESDAY, 20 AUGUST 2014
Federal Labor backs calls by Australian representatives of the Iraqi Assyrian and Chaldean Christian community for the Government to help alleviate the suffering of the humanitarian disaster in northern Iraq.
The Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Treasurer and Member for McMahon, Chris Bowen, and the Chief Opposition Whip and Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes, met today with community leaders to hear their concerns.
Assyrian and Chaldean Christians have lived in northern Iraq for millennia, but more than 150,000 have been displaced in recent months as they fled Islamic State insurgents, taking refuge in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and other neighbouring countries.
All Australians are appalled by the vicious and brutal terror campaign undertaken by Islamic State forces, which reportedly includes killing those who do not support their radical agenda.
Ms Plibersek, Mr Bowen and Mr Hayes met in western Sydney with leaders of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Saint Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church and other community groups.
The community and church leaders have called on the Government to support proposals to establish an autonomous region in the Nineveh plains, to increase humanitarian refugees from the region, and to increase Australian humanitarian aid.
Even though the humanitarian crisis on Mount Sinjar has eased after US air strikes, hundreds of thousands of people forced from their homes still need food, clothing and shelter.
Federal Labor welcomes the decision by the Iraqi Government to support in principle the creation of an autonomous region in the Nineveh plains. We are hopeful that the new government soon to be formed in Iraq will find ways to ensure security and autonomy for minority religious groups.
Federal Labor welcomes the decision of the Australian Government to provide $5 million in emergency humanitarian aid for those fleeing IS – after it had previously cut the Australian aid budget to Iraq from $7.7 million last year to zero – but much more is needed. Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war gives us a particular responsibility to support those who have been displaced.
Federal Labor also welcomes the Government’s decision to allocate 4400 existing refugee places to people from Iraq and Syria, but regrets the Government’s decision to reverse the previous Labor Government’s increase in the humanitarian quota to 20,000.