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Dublin: 13°C Wednesday 28 July 2021

Europe must do more to stop Islamic State 'slaughter' in Iraq - Irish MEP

“Toppling Saddam was the easy bit from a western perspective.”

A Yazidi girl displaced by Islamic State.
A Yazidi girl displaced by Islamic State.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

BRIAN HAYES HAS called for the European Union to do more to protect religious minorities in Iraq.

The Dublin MEP said the EU should create a “safe haven” in Northern Iraq for those fleeing prosecution in the country. Hayes said such a measure should be temporarily put in place while the new Iraqi government “takes control of the situation”.

Hayes said the international community “simply cannot stand by and allow further slaughter to happen”.

“Toppling Saddam [Hussein] was the easy bit from a western perspective. Putting together a new Iraq, and overcoming sectarian tensions was always going to be challenging.

The conditions need to be created to encourage Iraqis to remain rather than flee their country. This will only happen where safety can be guaranteed.[A safe haven] would provide immediate protection for minorities that feel threatened by ISIS.

“A similar approach was taken with ‘Operation Provide Comfort’ to protect the Kurds from genocide in 1991. This saved countless lives. We can repeat this success again and save lives in Iraq. It cannot be done without boots on the ground and that ultimately means a UN force of peacekeepers supported by a no fly zone policy.”

Since January, over 24,000 Iraqi civilians have been injured or killed by the Islamic State. Up to 600,000 people from religious minorities including Assyrians, Yazidis, Chaldeans and Christians are internally displaced. Hayes said these people are now faced with “the threat of ISIS in their ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaign”.

He described the struggle of the Christian community in Iraq as “particularly challenging”. In 2003 there were an estimated 1.4 million Christians living in Iraq. Now, only about 250,000 Christians remain.

“An entire community has been wiped out,” Hayes stated.

Explainer: Why thousands of Yazidi people are trapped on an Iraq mountain

Read: Women and young girls are being ‘sold’ or given as ‘gifts’ by Islamic extremists

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Órla Ryan

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