The Uniting Church has joined the National Council of Churches and Amnesty International in calling on Australians to support a letter writing campaign advocating for communities displaced by the conflict in northern Iraq.
The armed offensive by the self-titled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has resulted in a brutal purge of Yazidis and Christians, along with Sufi, Shiite and moderate Sunni Muslims, from the region.
An estimated 1.8 million people have been displaced across Iraq since January 2014 due to ongoing violence. This is in addition to more than 215,000 Syrian refugees hosted in the country, as well an estimated one million Iraqis internally displaced over the past decade.
“The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, said.
The purge has been marked by massacres that have left thousands dead and waves of abductions. There are allegations that many of the women and girls abducted by IS fighters have been subjected to sexual abuse, forced marriage or sold into sexual slavery.
Water, sanitation and food preparation are continuing concerns for humanitarian groups and immediate needs include winter clothing and shelter.
Supporters are being asked to write polite and respectful letters to Julie Bishop, the minister for foreign affairs, expressing deep concern and requesting additional support for displaced communities in the region.
For more information on the letter writing action E: email@example.com or Ph: 0392515266.You can also donate to the humanitarian effort through the National Council of Churches in Australia Act for Peace appeal, W: www.actforpeace.org.au or call 1800 025 101.