Sydney -- The Assyrian Universal Alliance - Australia Chapter (AUA) has met a number of times with the Australian government officials and presented detailed letters and submissions expressing its concern about the violent attacks in Iraq targeting Assyrians and their religious places of worship. The escalation of terror since 2003 is having a particularly devastating effect on many of Iraq's non-Muslims such as the indigenous Assyrians and Mandaeans, who are reportedly fleeing the country in ever-increasing numbers, raising concerns about the very survival of these ancient communities.
On 16 November 2010, an AUA delegation met in Canberra with the Hon. Chris Bowen, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. During the meeting the AUA representatives appealed to the Australian government to consider a resolution supporting the plight of the Assyrians in Iraq, lobbying the Iraqi government to immediately establish an Assyrian autonomous region on the Assyrian ancestral lands in North Iraq. The delegates called upon the Minister for Immigration to provide assistance to the Assyrian refugees and to condemn the latest attacks against the Assyrians of Iraq.
The AUA - Australia Chapter is pleased to announce that it has received a reply from Hon. Bowen MP writing to the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, regarding our recent meeting with him in reference to the plight of the Assyrian Christians of Iraq.
In his address to the Foreign Minister, Mr. Bowen writes:
"I have been advised by the delegation of the Assyrian Universal Alliance that the security situation within Iraq for Assyrian Christians is perilous, as evidenced by recent events such as the terrorist attack on the Our Lady of Deliverance Assyrian Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad. The delegation has intimated that Iraqi Kurdistan is a relatively safe area when compared to the southern areas of Iraq, which are mostly populated by Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. However, a lack of employment opportunities in this northern region has forced many Christian families to flee to refugee camps in nearby countries and seek asylum.
Minister I would request that you continue to work with the Iraqi government in order to secure the safety of the Assyrian people in Iraq, as well as continuing to work toward a situation where the Assyrians in Iraq can be economically self-sustaining."
In December 2008, Hon. Stephen Smith MP, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, issued a media release announcing Australia's contribution of $3 million in humanitarian assistance to the Ninewa Province in Iraq. This sum was to be provided through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Medical Corps (IMC). This funding was part of the Australia's programme of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in Iraq, and was announced in its 2008-2009 budgets, which totals $160 million over three years.
We request that the Australian government consider increasing the percentage of funding to Assyrians, the most needy, vulnerable and defenceless segment of Iraq's people. We hope that the Australian government will endorse the proposal of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and help the Christian Assyrians of Iraq to ensure that no renewed bloodshed occurs against them in the future.
The Assyrian communities in Australia have and will continue to express their sincere gratitude to the Australian government officials for their tireless efforts in the defence of freedom, values of democracy and the universal cause of human rights.