Government gives €6.5 million extra for emergency aid to northern Iraq

Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, is providing more support for the stricken population of northern Iraq. In total, €6.5 million euros will be donated for various forms of emergency aid. Some will be earmarked for mine clearance. ‘The Islamic State (IS) laid different types of explosive devices over a very large area,’ the Minister said. ‘Now that they have left, the population wants to return home. That makes sense, but it entails a great risk to life. So it’s crucial to quickly clear the mines from that area and also to make the population aware of the enormous risks.’

The work will be carried out by the UK’s Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and the Belgian organisation Handicap International. MAG has been working in northern Iraq for 22 years. Besides clearing mines, it runs information campaigns for refugees and local people. In total, the Netherlands is making €1.5 million available for these activities.

A total of €5 million is being donated to the Red Cross, which will provide aid like blankets, jerry cans and cooking equipment to the displaced via sister organisations in Kurdistan and Iraq. Other important services include medical care and the protection of vulnerable groups, like prisoners and refugees. ‘Take women, who in situations like this are often threatened with sexual violence,’ the Minister explained. ‘They need to be protected and given shelter. In this area, too, the Red Cross, together with local aid organisations, plays a key role.’

In total, the government has made around €8 million available for aid to those who have fled the violence and persecution by the IS in northern Iraq.