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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Canada parliament votes to take in Yazidi refugees
by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 25, 2016


22 children killed in air strikes on Syrian school: UNICEF
United Nations, United States (AFP) Oct 26, 2016 - Air strikes that hit a school in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province killed 22 children and six teachers, the UN children's agency UNICEF said Wednesday.

"This is a tragedy. It is an outrage. And if deliberate, it is a war crime," said UNICEF director Anthony Lake.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "warplanes -- either Russia or Syrian -- carried out six strikes" in the village of Hass, including on a school complex, killing 11 schoolchildren.

Lake said the school compound was "repeatedly attacked," adding that it may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.

A photograph circulated on social media showed a child's arm, seared off above the elbow, still clutching the strap of a dusty black rucksack.

"When will the world's revulsion at such barbarity be matched by insistence that this must stop?" added the UNICEF director.

Asked about the attack, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin responded: "It's horrible, horrible. I hope we were not involved."

"It's easy for me to say 'no' but I'm a responsible person. I need to see what our minister of defense is going to say," he told reporters.

Syrian government forces and their Russian ally have been accused by Western powers and rights groups of carrying out indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure.

More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria and over half of the country's population displaced since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Canada's parliament adopted Tuesday an opposition motion to resettle Yazidi refugees within four months, while declaring IS group's persecution of Yazidis near the Syrian border in northern Iraq a genocide.

Iraqi activist Nadia Murad was on hand for the unanimous vote in the House of Commons.

The government said it is still sorting out a plan for the airlift and does not yet know how many Yazidi refugees Canada will take in over the 120-day period.

But Immigration Minister John McCallum reminded that Canada had managed to resettle more than 25,000 Syrian refugees in just a few months at the start of the year.

"It is important to emphasize that Canada will always be an open country willing to step up and support people in need from all around the world," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the Commons.

"I am pleased to see Nadia (Murad) again today and reassure her that in the coming months we are committed to bringing in vulnerable Yazidi refugees," he said.

Murad was taken by the Islamic State group from her home village of Kocho near Iraq's northern town of Sinjar in August 2014 and brought to the city of Mosul.

Among the first things IS forced on her was to disavow her Yazidi faith, an ancient religion with more than half a million adherents in Iraq.

As a captive of the reviled extremist group, Murad, who today is 23, said she was tortured and raped for three months until she managed to escape and flee to Germany.

Since then, she has become a human rights activist, bringing the plight of the Yazidi community, especially the forced sexual enslavement and human trafficking of women and children captured by IS to the forefront of international attention.

Speaking in Ottawa through an interpreter, Murad said: "I would like to tell every single member of parliament that when they were standing I felt at that very critical moment IS was losing something, because IS never thought their slaves would one day come out and speak against them."

Tory MP Michelle Rempel, who brought the asylum motion for a vote, also called for safe zones to be established in Iraq for persecuted minorities such as the Yazidis.

"Canada stands with Nadia and her people," she said.


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