Rudd pledges aid to persecuted Iraq Christians
AUSTRALIA — Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has made a rare appearance at Fairfield Heights to allay community concerns over the security of persecuted Christian minorities in Iraq.
The former prime minister, along with his “longstanding friend”, McMahon MP Chris Bowen, met with leaders of the Assyrian, Caldean and Mandaean communities, at the Assyrian Sports and Culture Club last week.
During the meeting, community leaders called for a “radical solution” to resolve the increasingly dangerous situation Christians now face in Iraq.
Dr Amad Mtashar, of the Mandaean Australian Community Culture Club, said there was no security and that the government had a moral responsibility to act.
“Things are getting worse, not getting better,” Mr Mtashar said.
Mr Rudd said he understood the challenges and would look at using Australian aid to support health services, education and employment in Iraq. He also promised to raise the issue with Iraqi leaders.
“I’ll be looking carefully at what can we do to ensure proper aid gets to these communities,” he said.
He said Mr Bowen had been a strong supporter of Christian minorities in Iraq.
“Chris is a long standing friend of mine,’’ he said. `` Because of that friendship he talks to me on a regular basis about the challenges faced by the Assyrian, Caldean and Mandaean communities.
“He is a very strong and continuing voice about the challenges you face.’’
Mr Bowen said he would take up the matter with the UNHCR.
“These issues go to the security and safety of Christians and Assyrians in Iraq,’’ he said.
“Kevin was interested to hear the views of the community and he has undertaken to raise the matter when he is next in cabinet and I will also take to the UNHCR all the that came out of the meeting.’’