The US has launched airstrikes in Iraq, in an attempt to destroy artillery installments of ISIS, an extremist militant group. MADRE calls for an end to these strikes and for an urgent re-prioritization of humanitarian aid efforts.
As ISIS has advanced into northern Iraq, they have spread a nightmare of violence and repression. They have terrorized communities across the region, triggering massive displacement. Women have been primary targets of ISIS violence, and in certain instances, have been seized from their homes to be raped as part of a "sexual jihad." ISIS has also set its sights on religious minorities, with tens of thousands of people seeking refuge atop the isolated Mount Sinjar. They have no food or water, but risk death at the hands of ISIS fighters if they attempt to descend and flee.
Urgent action is needed to meet these pressing humanitarian needs. MADRE and our partner, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, have mobilized an emergency response to provide food, water, medical care and other essentials to women and families who have escaped ISIS violence.
To relieve those stranded on Mount Sinjar, the United Nations is working to establish a humanitarian corridor and has requested the assistance of the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, as well as the international community. The US must assemble its support to propel these humanitarian efforts.
Finally, by simultaneously launching airstrikes and food drops, the US is perpetuating a dangerous conflation of militarism and humanitarian aid. As Phyllis Bennis has reminded us, this practice led to the deaths of Afghan children in 2001, who raced to open the air-dropped yellow packages they thought were food and that turned out to be cluster bombs.
There is no military solution to political problems, and airstrikes threaten to escalate the violence further. MADRE calls for the prioritization of humanitarian response to meet the needs of those most threatened by the crisis.
"Under Isis, Iraqi women again face an old nightmare: violence and repression", by MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind