Mr. Speaker, first of all, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak today about Canada's action in response to the crisis in Iraq, particularly our response to the growing humanitarian situation.
Canada has been active in its support since the beginning of this crisis. During the last two months alone, ISIL's terrorist violence has displaced an estimated 850,000 people in Iraq. Over 1.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes since the year began. Iraq is witnessing the largest cases of internal displacement in the world.
Under terrorist threat, people are in dire need of water, food, shelter, and medicine. That is why we authorized the deployment of Canada's emergency stockpile of humanitarian goods. These goods have already been distributed and are saving lives in northern Iraq.
These stockpiles are designed to meet the most urgent needs. The emergency supplies include things like tents, blankets, kitchen sets and hygiene kits. These items are being deployed from Canada’s new warehouse in Dubai. These stockpiles are a key example of the strong relationship that exists between Canada and the United Arab Emirates. This relationship has become even stronger and more sustainable in recent months.
This new, strategically located stockpile will allow Canada to intervene rapidly on the scene of events in Africa and Asia. By maintaining emergency relief stockpiles on both sides of the globe, we will reach people more rapidly and ultimately save more lives. It is a question of time, and the sooner we take action, the more lives that can be saved.
This stockpile of emergency supplies will be managed by the Canadian Red Cross, as is Canada’s other facility in Mississauga, Ontario. The stockpile in Dubai is now fully operational, and the deployment to Iraq was the first from this new stockpile.
These stockpiles were distributed on the ground by Save the Children, a trusted and active partner. Save the Children has made sure our supplies are distributed in the most effective and efficient manner and that they help the most people possible, because in time of crisis, access to the most basic necessities can be the difference between life and death.
Canada remains very concerned with the escalating humanitarian and security situation in Iraq. We know that the violence has displaced well over a million people, and countless more remain under threat. Canada continues to condemn the terrorist actions of ISIL and the killing of civilians in northern Iraq in the strongest possible terms. Canada is particularly concerned about the ongoing, targeted persecution of religious minorities, which only adds fuel to sectarian tensions among Iraqis.
I remind the House that Canada has committed over $28 million in humanitarian assistance this year. We remain steadfast in our support of the people and Government of Iraq, as they confront this terrorist threat. The humanitarian needs of innocent civilians are particularly pressing in northern Iraq.
That is why just in the last month, Canada has contributed $12 million in humanitarian aid to key partners, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Mercy Corps, Development and Peace, and Save the Children Canada. These funds are providing emergency shelter, food, and medical supplies, as well as repairing essential facilities, establishing child-friendly spaces, providing psychosocial support services, and providing access to education.
Just yesterday my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced on top of this $28 million, an additional $10 million for victims of sexual violence and for investigations into these crimes.
It is clear that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant represents a significant threat. If ISIL consolidates territory in Iraq and Syria, it would have an autonomous area from which it could operate and from which it could transfer weapons and personnel across borders. ISIL would be able to impose oppressive control over populations in both Iraq and Syria. This would further degrade the humanitarian outlook in the region.
The methods ISIL has used to seize control of territories across Iraq have been brutal. This is a morally reprehensible group whose actions have included wilfully killing innocent children, enslaving women, barbarically murdering American journalists, murdering a British humanitarian aid worker, and the use or threat of rape to advance ISIL's cause. That is why Canada has been steadfast in our position and so strong in our humanitarian reaction.
The provision of humanitarian assistance is one of the clearest expressions of Canadian values. Canada cannot and will not stand idly by while people in the world suffer needlessly.
Canada is deeply troubled by the rapid rise of this extremist group and by its cruel and barbaric tactics. Its progress leaves little room for doubt: we need to support allied efforts to bring the ISIL to its knees and drastically reduce its ability to act, particularly in light of the humanitarian impact that this crisis is having on the people of Iraq.
Canada will continue to provide a significant amount of humanitarian, diplomatic and military aid to Iraq. We are in it for the long haul. In June 2014, I added Iraq to Canada's list of development partner countries. As the Prime Minister said:
Left unchecked, ISIL [this bloodthirsty terrorist group] is a threat not only to peace and security in the region, but to global security as well.
As a result of its commitment, Canada, along with its allies, will continue to support the people and the Government of Iraq in their fight against terrorism. Canada will continue to carefully monitor the situation and work closely with its allies. We will continue to determine how to best meet the needs of Iraqi civilians, particularly those of religious minorities who are in such profound need.
Regardless of our political stripes, we can all no doubt agree that the threat posed by the terrorist regimes taking greater control of Iraq is of grave concern.
The targeted military measures that we are taking are not in any way preventing us from also taking humanitarian measures. They are not mutually exclusive, quite the contrary.
We are providing emergency shelters and medical assistance to thousands of Iraqi civilians and large-scale financial assistance to other governments in the region that are affected by the crisis in Syria.
It is essential that there be security on the ground so humanitarian assistance can be provided. It is therefore imperative that we reduce the ISIL's capabilities in order to provide that assistance and reach those most in need.
That is why military intervention for a defined period of time, as set out in the motion, is needed to accomplish this goal. Then, we will be able to work with our Iraqi partners on medium- and long-term development in order to strengthen the country's civil institutions and civil society. Moreover, we will give hope to young children and give them access to education by protecting them from the horrific acts of barbarism that we have witnessed recently, unfortunately.
Canada is the seventh-largest donor of humanitarian aid in this crisis. It provides food, hygiene kits, cooking equipment, bedding, tents, medical supplies and other essentials, while making urgent repairs to water and sanitation facilities, just to name a few measures.
We will continue working closely with our allies to determine the best way to meet the needs of Iraqi civilians, particularly persecuted religious minorities.
For all of these reasons, we should clearly all support this motion.