The Defence Secretary chaired a COBR meeting on the latest situation in Iraq earlier this afternoon. The International Development Minister, representatives from the agencies and officials from across Whitehall also attended as well as from overseas missions in Baghdad, Ankara, Erbil, New York and Washington.
Tackling the dire humanitarian situation in Northern Iraq remains the UK’s top priority. Latest figures suggest that there are now 450,000 displaced people in the Dahuk governorate, which represents a 50% increase in the area’s population. A Department for International Development (DFID) humanitarian adviser is still assessing the area and has now visited the city and nearby refugee camps. In the coming days our efforts will focus on strengthening capacity in the local area to cope with this mass influx. Two planeloads of UK aid are en route to Erbil, destined for Dahuk and including essential items such as cooking equipment to be distributed by the World Food Programme.
We are also working with the UN agencies to accelerate the distribution of financial aid to the non-government organisations (NGOs) working on the ground. The UN appeal is well funded, but we must ensure these funds are dispersed swiftly. Humanitarian agencies need to be able to rapidly help all those in desperate need in Northern Iraq.
Ensuring that Kurdish forces are able to counter ISIL’s advances in the area is also vital. We have made clear that we will consider any requests from the Iraq or Kurdistan Regional Government favourably. In the meantime we are providing other countries with logistical support to transport supplies to Kurdish forces.
We also continue to press for a United Nations Security Council resolution to make clear the shared determination of the international community to tackle the threat posed by ISIL. The UK-drafted Chapter 7 resolution which would disrupt the terrorists’ financing flows and sanction those who are seeking to recruit jihadists to ISIL will be discussed by the Security Council at 8pm (BST) this evening and we will push for unanimous adoption.