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Iraq: Minority Groups

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL5227, tabled on 20 January 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why no safe haven has been established for Yazidis and Assyrian Christians, Mandaeans, and Shabaks; when they last raised the failure to make such provision with their international partners; and what assistance they have given to those minorities to better provide for their self-defence.

Answered on

1 February 2016

The British Government agrees that there is an urgent need to protect civilians in Syria and Iraq. However, for safe zones to be effective they must be truly safe. That would require an international mandate and a significant commitment of boots on the ground. Turkey has promoted the idea of safe havens along the border in northern Syria. However, all such previous proposals have foundered on the question of who will provide the defensive air cover, given the presence of a very sophisticated Syrian air defence system, and now the presence of Russian air-to-air offensive capability in the area. The priority remains an end to the violence and full, unhindered access for humanitarian agencies, so civilians can escape the fighting and aid can get through to save lives in the worst affected areas. Britain continues to lead the way in helping those suffering from the humanitarian crisis. The best way of safeguarding minority rights in the region is by defeating Daesh and establishing peace and stability in the region. The UK has been at the forefront of these efforts. The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), set out the Government’s comprehensive strategy for dealing with Daesh and the conflict in Syria in his response to the Foreign Affairs Committee on 26 November 2015.