The UK needs to give more aid to minorities in Iraq, a former SDLP leader has said.
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said: “There is a moral imperative to give all necessary humanitarian support and assistance to Christian and Yazidi minority groups in Northern Iraq as they face continued violence and threat from Islamic State forces.”
She added: “There is a need to support all efforts to get minority religious groups out of harms way as soon as possible and to ensure that they have all the food supplies they need to avoid hunger and starvation.
“‘Church leaders from across Ireland and the United Kingdom have made clear their support for fellow Christians, who face the most harrowing of situations. We stand with them and we will not turn our back on them in their hour of need.”
Ms Ritchie said: “The UN’s special rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, has clearly stated that the danger of massacre and potential genocide is imminent if something is not done. I now call on the British government to heed these warnings and to provide all the necessary humanitarian support to protect Christians and other minority groups in Iraq.
“However, there should a caution against US/UK further military intervention in the region that could destabilise Iraq and actually worsen the situation. Indeed the existence and growth of the Islamic State militants can be traced back to Western military intervention in the region over the past decade
“Instead there is a need to support the new Iraqi government that seems set to emerge and to develop their capacity to handle this threat and to stabilise the country.”