Foreign Policy Blogs

UN Policy Problems Permeating National Refugee Policy

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a 21-year-old Iraqi woman of the Yezidi minority, speaks to members of the U.N. Security Council at the U.N. headquarters in New York City on Dec. 16, 2015 Eduardo Munoz—Reuters

A large policy discussion is taking place between the US government and the UN, refocusing, and in many cases slashing US contributions to UN agencies to adjust closer to current US foreign policy approaches. One example of an extensive refocus is with a new policy to put funding and attention towards religious minorities in Iraq. Iraq has always been a country made up of several ancient communities, but according the US representatives most minorities are partially or wholly ignored by UN aid agencies in Iraq and Syria, often due to discrimination and a policy of willful neglect against minorities in Iraq.

With little aid to minority groups like Yazidis and Christians in Iraq since 2003, and little military assistance to Kurdish allies who bore the brunt of fighting against ISIS and are now being bombed by NATO allies, the policy of Western allies reflects the neglect of the realities of human rights atrocities and the lack of aid given to minority communities in the region. Even in the post ISIS era, tens of thousands of Yazidi girls, many below the age of puberty, face extreme sexual violence, torture and death, but their plight have fallen on deaf ears.

The founder of an independent Canadian charity to free sex slaves from Iraq by purchasing the girls to gain their freedom, Rev. Majed El Shafie points out that Yazidi question has been coopted by some political partisans in countries like Canada. To a certain degree, the Canadian government has even labelled a concerted effort to direct aid firstly to vulnerable minorities in Iraq as discriminatory in practice, despite those minorities being targeted groups, and likely being the most tortured and abused girls in recorded human history. By depending wholly on UN agencies that ignore human rights atrocities and knowingly pursuing a policy focused on direction from the UN for Canada’s refugee policy, Yazidi refugees are still being stranded in dangerous refugee settlements for the sake of local political points. While his organisation One Free World International and other citizen run organisations of concerned individuals with roots in the Middle East have fought hard to save actual victims on the ground in the affected areas, little to no support has been given to them by their government, one that knowingly made agreements with UN agencies with known problems.

Debates surrounding rights in Western countries need to move beyond the first world bubble and focus on some of the worst atrocities in human history. No one would accept someone labelling themselves a great leader and promoter of democracy if they had open and friendly relations with a country next door persecuting a genocide. A Second World War army bypassing a death camp so political leaders could avoid discussing the Holocaust at home would also have never been accepted, so why is current policy more focused on hash tags than human rights atrocities? Societies need to openly reflect on how blind policies could ignore a modern genocide, and how legal proceeding should be initiated against those who were aware of these actions and did more to scuttle attention to the issue for their own personal benefit than to help those who live in slavery and most likely will be executed by being burned to death for being born of the wrong faith or blood in 2018. Generations will see the world as it was when mass genocides began around 2015 and feel shame for their past ancestors who put genocide at the bottom of a list of simply inconvenient priorities.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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