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Ireland will take in a small number of families fleeing the violence in Iraq

As much as €500,000 in emergency funding will also be provided to organisations working in the area.

Mideast Iraq Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive at a refugee camp. Source: AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that it will be taking in a ‘small number’ of families fleeing violence in northern Iraq.

As much as €500,000 in funding will also be provided to UNICEF and the Red Cross to assist with their operations in the region.

As Islamic State jihadists advance through northern Iraq, 200,000 are thought to be in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.

The Department of Foreign Affairs clarified that the aid will be used to assistance the 30,000 Yazidi civilians displaced in the vicinity of Mount Sinja.

“The plight of the most vulnerable – particularly, children, women and elderly people – is increasingly desperate and Ireland is doing all it can to provide urgent life-saving assistance,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said in a statement.

Ireland condemns in the strongest possible way deliberate attacks on Iraqi civilians and calls on all parties to the conflict to ensure safe passage of displaced populations and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

He added that both himself and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald are “anxious” that Ireland plays it part, and will “provide refuge to a number of families fleeing the violence being perpetrated by ISIS in Northern Iraq”.

8/7/2014. Cabinet Meetings Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

“[We] have been discussing the ways in which Ireland can offer refuge to a number of families who have seen their lives devastated by this appalling violence and oppression,” Minister Fitzgerald said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said this is a very early stage, but confirmed that a “small number of families” would be provided refuge “on a humanitarian basis”.

The United States said today it was assessing rescue options while the United Nations warned of “potential genocide”.

France has said it will deliver weapons to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic extremists in Iraq.

Mideast Iraq Syrian Kurds Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community settle at a camp at Derike, Syria. Source: AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File

“In order to respond to the urgent need expressed by the Kurdistan regional authorities, the president has decided, in agreement with Baghdad, to deliver arms in the coming hours,” President Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement.

The United States has carried out air strikes against members of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in the area of Mount Sinjar, where the UN refugee agency says up 20,000-30,000 people, many of them members of the Yazidi minority, are besieged.

Thousands more poured across a bridge into Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday after trekking into Syria to escape, most with nothing but the clothes they wore.

UN minority rights expert Rita Izsak has warned they face “a mass atrocity and potential genocide within days or hours”.

Additional reporting © AFP, 2014

Read: Thousands of Iraqis face ‘mass atrocity and potential genocide within days or hours’ >

More: Who else, besides Americans, are flying military jets in Iraq? They might not be Iraqis… >

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Nicky Ryan

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