Many in Fairfield touched by Iraqi conflict says Smithfield MP Andrew Rohan

MANY people in the Fairfield area were touched by global events when a terrorist group coined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) led an insurgency into the north-western province of, Nineveh, Iraq.

The province of Nineveh, like Fairfield, contains a large Christian-Assyrian population and grave concerns are held for 4000 families from this ethnic minority who are understood to be fleeing the area.

Concerns are also held for Shi’ite Muslims after ISIS boasted about executing 1700 Shi’ite Iraqi military personnel, on Twitter, on Monday.

Iraq refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region, as soldi

Iraq refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region, as soldiers watch them pass an area in Irbil, 350 kilometres (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The al-Qaeda-inspired group that captured two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government’s ability to slow the assault following the insurgents’ lightning gains. (AP Photo) Source: AP

 

 

Smithfield state Liberal MP Andrew Rohan, an Iraqi-Assyrian who migrated to Australia in 1979, described the situation as “dreadful and tragic.”

“The vast majority of people in Iraq, no matter their race or religion, just want to live out their lives peacefully,” he said.

“And a lot of people are asking what the Australian Government can do to help and really I think the international community should do something.

“Many of the people caught in this conflict have nowhere to flee.”

FILE — In this Friday, June 13, 2014 file photo, An Iraqi refugee girl from Mosul stands

FILE — In this Friday, June 13, 2014 file photo, An Iraqi refugee girl from Mosul stands outside her family’s tent at Khazir refugee camp outside Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometres) north of Baghdad, Iraq. Days after Iraq’s second-largest city fell to al-Qaeda-inspired fighters, some Iraqis are already returning to Mosul, lured back by insurgents offering cheap gas and food, restoring power and water and removing traffic barricades. (AP Photo, File) Source: AP

 

Mr Rohan added the conflict should remind people in Australia they are fortunate to live in a land free of conflict, violence and intolerance.

Shoushan Tower works for the Assyrian Aid Society in Australia which has an office in Fairfield West.

She said she had spoken to the organisation’s man on the ground, Ashur Eskraya, who is in Dohuk, near Mosul in Iraq.

“He told us about 4,000 Assyrian families were fleeing Mosul ahead of insurgency,” she said.

“What we’re going to try and do is raise funds to send to people caught in the conflict to help them once they reach safety.”

To donate to the Assyrian Aid Society in Australia phone 0406 105 904 or visit assyrianaidsociety.org.

WHAT: It is believed more than 200 Australians are fighting in Syria and some may have crossed into Iraq with the ISIS insurgency

WHY: ASIO has seized passports of a number of Australia citizens, including men from southwest Sydney, over fears they would travel to the Middle East to take part in the conflict

WHEN: In December, two men in Sydney were charged with actively encouraging people to take part in the conflict in Syria

HOW: The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years prison

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