D&P receives $1 million grant to help displaced Iraqis

By Deborah Gyapong

Canadian Catholic News Service

OTTAWA (CCN) — On Aug. 29, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada awarded the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) $1 million to help displaced Iraqis.

“That means we’ll be able to support all the families in Iraq that currently need help,” said CCODP’s deputy director of in-Canada programs Ryan Worms. “It also means we will be able to work closely with our partners on the ground, such as Caritas Iraq and Catholic Relief Services.”

Worms said he was happy the Canadian government recognized CCODP’s ability to work on the ground with and through its partner organizations, noting not many aid organizations are as well-placed to give assistance to families in need.

The Caritas partners will help provide displaced families inside Iraq with food, drinking water, shelter and household necessities. CCODP will also provide $50,000 to Caritas Turkey to aid refugees there, he said.

The same day, International Development Minister Christian Paradis announced the deployment of a new emergency stockpile located in the United Arab Emirates to help Iraqis. This warehouse will also allow Canada to more easily reach emergencies elsewhere in Asia and Africa, he said at Red Cross headquarters in Ottawa.

“Canada remains very concerned by the escalating humanitarian and security situation in Iraq, where violence has displaced 1.3 million people, with countless more under threat,” said Paradis. “Canada continues to condemn the terrorist actions of ISIL, and the killing of civilians in northern Iraq, in the strongest possible terms.”

“Particularly concerning is the ongoing, targeted persecution of religious minorities, which only inflames sectarian tensions among Iraqis.”

Paradis pointed out Canada has committed more than $21 million to humanitarian relief in Iraq so far this year. “And we remain steadfast in our support of the people and government of Iraq as they confront this terrorist threat,” he said. “The humanitarian needs of innocent civilians particularly in northern Iraq are pressing.”

Canada is also providing military supplies to Iraqi security forces to contain ISIL’s “murderous rampage,” he said. One million Iraqis are under threat, and this aid will “improve the precarious security situation.”

“Left unchecked, ISIL is a threat not only to peace and security in the region but to global security as well,” he said. “Canada, in co-ordination with allies, will continue to support the people and government of Iraq in their fight against terrorism.

A journalist challenged Paradis on the $2.5 million allocated to the most recent aid package, contending this was a small amount of money considering the extent of the humanitarian need.

“We are dealing with people persecuted in a very difficult area, like religious minorities, they are persecuted, there are some sectarian fights, so we have to be very careful in this to make sure the aid falls into the appropriate hands,” Paradis said.

He expects aid will be able to reach thousands of people. The government has officials on the ground, he said, and is working closely with organizations such as the Red Cross, Mercy Corps, Save the Children “and now Development and Peace that we just announced this morning.”

Worms agreed reaching populations inside Iraq needing help is difficult and requires almost daily assessments, depending on the state of conflict.

“We can reach the displaced populations, but there are still many areas where is it difficult and dangerous for the staff of the (aid) organizations to go,” he said.

Neighbouring countries also need assistance to help displaced Iraqis, he said.

Worms said Canadians can help further with aid to persecuted Iraqis through donating to CCODP, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, or CNEWA Canada. “I want to encourage the public to give to the Catholic organizations, because they will make sure help will reach the ones in need.”

 
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