Mr. Chair, I will remind my colleagues on a playoff night that in a year from now, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing in the semifinals, so if the opposition wanted to convene a committee of the whole, perhaps we could all watch the Leafs playing at least in the semifinals.
I would like to use my 10 minutes for a speech followed by five minutes for questions and comments.
I am pleased to speak to the House tonight about how Canada's Middle East strategy has played an important role in shifting momentum against Daesh and in providing support to the beleaguered populations of Iraq, Syria, and their neighbours in the region.
Just over a year ago, our Prime Minister announced a new strategy to guide Canada's response to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq and to mitigate the impact they were having on Jordan and on Lebanon.
Ours is a whole-of-government approach and one that reflects who we are as a country, one that stands with its allies, prefers lasting solutions to quick ones, and puts humanitarian ideals and the basic needs of people at the forefront of how we act in international affairs.
This strategy is comprehensive. It pursues military, diplomatic, security and stabilization, humanitarian, and development lines of effort. It also is an integrated strategy. It brings together skills, resources, and talents from across government, from the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, our diplomats around the world, and experts in development, humanitarian assistance, and counterterrorism.
Finally, our strategy is a sustained one, a commitment of more than $1.6 billion over three years. We have committed $840 million in humanitarian assistance to meet the basic needs of those affected by these conflicts. This comes to the aid of those who have been displaced, including those fleeing from the current fight to liberate Mosul, and it focuses specifically on the needs and the rights of women and girls.
We have also committed $270 million in long-term development assistance not only for Iraq and Syria, but also for Jordan and Lebanon, which are both struggling with the overwhelming demands of hosting refugees. The strategy's aim is to build resilience, helping to build communities that are strong enough to endure and overcome, and in the case of Iraq and Syria, prevent a slide back into conflict.
We are also committing $145 million for stabilization and security programming. This funding reinforces stabilization and reconciliation initiatives in Iraq, supports the peace process in Syria, and aims to reduce the threat of terrorist groups.
As members of the House well know, we have resettled more than 40,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015, who now proudly can call Canada home. The people of Syria deserve a life free from violence, and Canada will continue to be there to help them reach this very important goal.
The crises in the Middle East and the battle against Daesh present significant challenges to international stability and to the security of Canadians and Canadian interests. Our strategy and the dedication with which it is being implemented by members of our armed forces, police officers, and diplomats shows that Canada is certainly up to the challenge.
Let me now speak about the global coalition to counter Daesh, a coalition that consists of 68 countries and organizations from various regions around the world. With this coalition, we see that states all around the world share a common resolve for peace and stability and the fight against terrorism.
Our Canadian Armed Forces contribute to the global coalition through Operation Impact, which was recently extended by this government until June 2017. We are proud to be part of efforts which have liberated over two million people in Iraq and reduced Daesh's territory by more than 60% in Iraq and 30% in Syria.
Under Operation Impact, the Canadian Armed Forces conduct air operations, including surveillance and refuelling, provide training, advice and assistance to the Iraqi security forces, and provide capacity building to regional forces. Canada's contribution of 50 additional CAF medical personnel and support equipment to northern Iraq is a concrete example of Canada's ability to leverage expertise while complementing the work of coalition partners to maximum effect.
Underpinning Canada's military operations, we are supporting civilian-led efforts to prevent the flow of funding to Daesh and to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, including through the coalition working groups.
Canada is investing resources to prevent and counter the spread of violent extremism. It is our view that addressing conditions conducive to violent extremism and terrorism are essential to combatting the expansion of Daesh. An overarching goal is to build better capacity of partners within the region to handle the current security challenges and to prepare them for new ones as they emerge.
Let me focus now on Iraq. I would like to speak about Iraq, and then I will transition to the Syrian situation. Canada supports a united, stable, and diverse Iraqi society. This has been our policy for years, and it is the backbone of our engagement and all of the programming that we see throughout the country. The promotion and protection of peaceful pluralism, respect for diversity, and for all human rights is an integral part of Canada's work in Iraq. A multi-ethnic, multi-faith, and inclusive society, Canada is well positioned to champion these values internationally by sharing Canadian experience and expertise.
We are also supporting the Iraqi government's efforts to mend ethnic and sectarian divisions, and to improve governance. This is why Canada's three-year strategy focuses on building local capacity at all levels, including Iraq's security forces and governance structures. Canada is certainly not alone in supporting the government and people of Iraq. We are working with the coalition to support Iraq's efforts to fight Daesh, hold Daesh members accountable for their terrible crimes, and provide a safe and stable environment for a diverse range of communities across the country.
We are also seeking to achieve some of these goals through the UN where we have called on the Security Council to take these steps to ensure that those responsible for the atrocities committed by Daesh in Iraq and Syria are held accountable. Daesh's actions are an affront to human dignity, international law, and to Canadian values of peaceful pluralism and respect for diversity. The atrocities perpetrated by Daesh have affected communities in Iraq, including the Shia and Sunni Muslim populations, Yazidis, Christians, and the list goes on unfortunately.
This is why our continued engagement in Iraq is so important, and why we created a multi-year strategy to focus on efforts in the region. As we move forward with our strategy in Iraq, we must remember that the international community is also working together to support Iraq, and by looking to global institutions like the UN, the coalition, and NATO, we can rally support and coordinate efforts.
Syria has witnessed six years of suffering and brutal violence. We are working tirelessly in collaboration with the international community toward a peaceful resolution of this conflict. the UN-led intra-Syrian peace process is the only true pathway for a sustainable, long-term solution to the conflict. Unfortunately, until the parties, notably the Syrian regime, meaningfully engage in the negotiations, the peace talks will not yield tangible results. We are persistent in our condemnation of the targeting of civilians, denial of humanitarian access, and of continued violence. Our position on these issues is clear, and it is consistent.
Canada has sought to exert pressure on all parties in this conflict. We have urged the ceasefire guarantors, in particular, Russia and Iran, to use their influence on the regime, to ensure ceasefire agreements are honoured, and humanitarian access is enabled. The Astana memorandum on de-escalation zones is certainly a welcome step toward the reduction of violence, but its success will depend on implementation and monitoring.
Canada closely follows the deplorable situation of human rights in Syria. It is entirely unacceptable that civilians, including humanitarian and healthcare workers, are deliberately targeted. We continue to condemn this violence in the strongest terms at the UN Human Rights Council and in other multilateral fora. Gross violations and abuses of human rights, including sexual violence, torture, and arbitrary detentions have no place in the world and any civilized society. Canada has to be committed to doing whatever it can to deal with these terrible atrocities. Indeed, we are fully committed.
When the Syrian regime shamelessly used sarin gas on April 4, we were steadfast that this heinous attack was a war crime. Canada welcomed the American targeted military response, and at the recent G7 foreign ministers meeting, Canada, along with other G7 countries, clearly stated that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. We promptly took action, and added 49 names to our sanctions list against the regime.
Canada is a top contributor to the United Nations Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Joint Investigative Mechanism. We fund international mechanisms that collect and document evidence in order to hold those who use chemical weapons, a clear war crime, to account in Syria.
Last fall, Canada played a leadership role by convening and focusing the attention of the UN General Assembly on the critical situation in Syria.
Let me ask the foreign minister two questions. The whole world was horrified by the chemical attacks that took place in Syria. Seeing images of the victims, including young children and infants, shocked all of us. Now the United States and some of our allies in the Middle East have called for sanctions against the Assad regime. Additionally, the United States took military action against the regime's airbase that was used to launch the attack.
I speak on behalf of many concerned Canadians who are hoping that such atrocities never take place in Syria or anywhere in the world. The Assad regime has repeatedly shown no regard for the lives of its own citizens, and continues to contribute toward a deteriorating human rights crisis in Syria.
Could the minister please tell us what actions Canada has taken in the aftermath of this reprehensible attack on innocent victims in Syria?