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Responding to persecution Swiss boost humanitarian aid to Iraq

Displaced Yazidis settle temporarily under a bridge in northwest Iraq

(Keystone)

Switzerland is “extremely concerned” about atrocities being committed against civilians by the Islamic State group in Iraq. In a statement from the foreign ministry on Friday it called on all parties in Iraq to respect international humanitarian law and human rights.

In early June Switzerland increased its financial assistance to its partners on the ground in Iraq by CHF3.7 million ($4.1 million), to a total of CHF8.6 million. The International Committee of the Red Cross, Save the Children Switzerland and the Norwegian Refugee Council are on hand to provide food and material aid to internally displaced persons in northern Iraq, especially children and families.

In June the Islamic State group advanced across northern and western Iraq, routing the Iraqi military and taking the country's second-largest city, Mosul. Thousands of people were killed and more than 1.5 million were displaced.

Among the displaced were thousands of Yazidis, a religious minority, who fled from advancing IS militants and were trapped in the mountains.

On Thursday French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that France would provide weapons for the Kurdish soldiers fighting the IS. Following an emergency meeting on Friday, the European Union said that individual EU governments were free to send weapons to Iraqi Kurds battling Islamic militants, provided they had the consent of Iraqi national authorities.

In an interview with Swiss Public Television, SRF, on Thursday, the chairman of the Swiss Bishops Conference, Markus Büchel, said: “If it’s for the protection of the people, we can absolutely imagine the delivery of weapons.” Such arms shipments would need to be accompanied by diplomatic support and should not lead to additional escalation, he said. 

The statement from the foreign ministry called on Iraq to redouble its efforts to re-establish the rule of law and respect for human rights throughout the country.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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