A Norwegian military transport flight took off from Oslo Tuesday, bound for Northern Iraq and filled with water filtration systems and other humanitarian aid. Norway also announced it would be sending emergency aid to Ukraine, to help ease more pain and suffering closer to home.
The Norwegian government already had approved around NOK 50 million for humanitarian aid to refugees in Northern Iraq who’ve been driven from their homes by the extremist Islamic organization known as IS. The UN has characterized the situation in Iraq as a humanitarian catastrophe and that there’s acute need for emergency assistance.
In August, Norway offered the use of a C-130J Hercules aircraft to shuttle aid to Northern Iraq. Military personnel from the 135th Luftving at the air force station at Gardermoen had been waiting for a clear signal to go. It finally came and the squads were engaged in hectic activity at Gardermoen on Monday, loading the flight mostly with the fresh water systems from Kirkens Nødhjelp (Norwegian Church Aid). A need for clean water tops the list of humanitarian assistance required in Iraq.
Norwegian Foreign Minister, who was in Iraq last week, said the situation in Iraq had gone from bad to worse in recent weeks. More than 1.4 million people have been forced from their homes by brutal Islamic insurgents. Brende also met with Iraq’s incoming prime minster Haider al-Abadi while in Baghdad, where al-Abadi is forming a new, more inclusive government. In Erbil, Brende met with Kurdish authorities, the UN and humanitarian organizations, plus visited refugees.
“It is critical that the new government in Baghdad includes all ethnic groups in Iraq,” Brende said. “It’s so important for the government to unify in the fight against the extremists in ISIL. The deplorable violations of human rights carried out by ISIL are disgusting acts that can only be met with condemnation.”
After visiting Iraq last week Brende was back in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev for the fourth time in less than a year, to also demonstrate Norway’s support for Ukraine in the face of Russian military intervention. Norway is also sending NOK 8 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.