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Middle East

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL2747, tabled on 10 November 2014

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the case for providing overseas aid to members of the Syriac Orthodox Church and other Christian communities in Iraq and Syria; and whether they consider that such Christian communities benefit from adequate protection from their governments against ISIL and other Islamic fundamentalists.

Answered on

17 November 2014

The UK Government is horrified by the barbaric acts of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which is seeking to stoke sectarian conflict across the Middle East. Across Syria and Northern Iraq ISIL have launched a campaign of violence and terror and carried out appalling atrocities. They have attacked people of every faith and of none. In Iraq we have committed £23 million of humanitarian assistance to help those who have fled ISIL advances. We are working closely with the Iraqi government and our international coalition partners to assist and protect civilians wherever we can. We welcome the commitments that Prime Minister al-Abadi has made to inclusivity, to protecting Iraqi citizens, addressing human rights abuses and holding those responsible to account. The UK has committed a total of £700 million in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the region. The Syrian regime is seeking to heighten sectarian tension and fear within Christian, and other minority communities, painting the opposition as solely Islamic extremists, with Assad trying to paint himself as the only defender of the Syrian Christians. He is not; he continues to create the conditions for extremism in Syria by prosecuting a war he can’t win, destroying communities and the social fabric of the country. In the long run the only way to secure the position of Syria’s minority communities is to find an inclusive political solution to the crisis. The UK is determined to support the moderate opposition, who are working for an inclusive political settlement, and are committed to protect all of Syria’s communities and resist, extremists and authoritarian regimes.