JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Iraq aid flights will continue till refugees are safe: Tony Abbott

Date

National security correspondent

View more articles from David Wroe

Tony Abbott meets Australian troops at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

Tony Abbott meets Australian troops at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday. Photo: ADF

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed that Australia will continue flying humanitarian missions over Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq until safety can be guaranteed for the thousands of Yazidi refugees hiding in the barren region.

As the prospects of an international mission to rescue the stranded refugees appeared to fall, Australian forces carried out their first airdrop of food and water from a C-130 transport plane on Thursday morning Australian time.

An Australian C-130 transport plane has been dropping food and water to thousands of Yazidi refugees stranded in barren mountainous areas in northern Iraq.

An Australian C-130 transport plane has been dropping food and water to thousands of Yazidi refugees stranded in barren mountainous areas in northern Iraq.

Mr Abbott paid a snap visit to the Al Minhad Air Base in the Middle East where the troops are based and thanked them for ''putting forward the long, strong arm of Australia to help protect those people who are at the mercy of … the murderous hordes of the Islamic State movement''.

The Prime Minister said he expected the airdrops to continue ''over quite a few nights to come'' but said it was a chance to do something ''unambiguously good''.

''We're not trying to change a regime, we're not trying to establish democracy, [but] when something is clearly right and proper and good … then we in Australia try to do what we can to help.''

<em></em>

Reportedly several thousand refugees, mostly from the minority Yazidi sect, remain holed up in the mountains, though this is a fraction of the tens of thousands previously believed to be hiding in the harsh, dry area.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday morning that air strikes against Islamic State militants and the efforts of Kurdish Pershmerga fighters, seemed to have allowed many of the refugees to flee the mountain area to relative safety and those that remained were in reasonable health. The Pentagon said a small US team had assessed the situation on Mount Sinjar and ''an evacuation mission is far less likely''.

The first Australian airdrop delivered 10 pallets of supplies including 150 boxes of high-energy biscuits and 340 boxes of bottled water, which is enough to sustain 3700 people for 24 hours.

The government has said that Iraqis and Syrians are eligible for 4000 existing special humanitarian resettlement places from overseas each year. These are part of the overall 13,750 humanitarian places the Abbott government offers annually.

The Greens will use the return of Parliament in a fortnight to push for the number of resettlement places to be restored to the 20,000 a year that existed under the previous Labor government.

''If the Prime Minister is serious about a humanitarian response, he would create extra places,'' Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said. ''One of the first things he did when he became Prime Minister was to cut the number of refugee places for Australia by almost a third.''

Follow us on Twitter

114 comments

  • Abbot pays a snap visit to thank the troops?

    Oh puleeze! They've only been there five minutes.

    His stupidity is only exceeded by that of his advisors. Do they really think that's going to make a big man of him in our eyes?

    Commenter
    East Coaster
    Date and time
    August 15, 2014, 7:04AM
    • He's on the way home, it's a nice gesture. I'd be happy if my pm stopped off to thank us for being away from home.

      Let the peanut gallery come out swinging.

      Commenter
      Mckenzie
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 8:05AM
    • Don't worry. The issue will go away when Abbott realizes he's wrung every last jingoistic headline out of it! He and Peta obviously think wrapping himself in the flag overseas is a good distraction from the shambles he's in charge of and responsible for here and he's probably angry that Hockey's distracting people here from his own distraction there.

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 8:05AM
    • Haters gotta hate.

      Commenter
      Frank P
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 8:08AM
    • Wonder how you would feel if you were holed up in those mountains without food of water and fearing for your life.

      Commenter
      Catherine
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 8:49AM
    • Who's only been there five minutes 'East Coaster'?

      Australian troops, including the C130's now delivering aid in Iraq, have been based there since late 2009.

      But 'puleeze' don't let the facts or accurate information get in the way of your little rant.

      Commenter
      Cam
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 8:59AM
    • I also see that all we could afford to drop to the people on the Sinjar Mountains was hard biscuits, surplus WW 2, and water. Wow what a generous lot we are while the USA is providing editable food. Well it is one way to get rid of the tasteless teeth breaking biscuits that no one will eat. Really, it just shows Abbott is all show phoney and nothing else. For all those saying he just popped in on the way home well I guess the next pop in will be Manus Island LOL.

      Commenter
      Jason
      Location
      Gold Coast
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 9:29AM
    • Catherine,
      imagine how you would feel cooped up for a month in a windowless stinking ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean not knowing your fate.
      Where you alluding to compassion?

      Commenter
      nkelly
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 9:47AM
    • Catherine @ 8:49AM

      "Wonder how you would feel if you were holed up in those mountains without food of water and fearing for your life."

      Probably as bad as I would feel being holed up on Nauru or Christmas Island or being sent to an unknown fate in Cambodia fearing for my life or sanity

      Commenter
      havasay
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 10:06AM
    • Jason

      I'm not sure how paper plates containing roast beef and three veg would fare after a parachute drop. However, I am sure the hard biscuits and water was well received by the dehydrated and starving people stuck on those rock strewn slopes.

      Commenter
      Pen of hrba
      Date and time
      August 15, 2014, 10:17AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

How Islamic State wins supporters

The siege by Islamic State on Mount Sinjar has apparently been broken but an enduring reversal of the terrifying advances of the militants across Syria and Iraq remains highly uncertain.

Khaled Sharrouf mental health problems left untreated in prison

Sydney jihadist Khaled Sharrouf's mental health issues were left untreated for almost all of his four-year incarceration and would only have worsened while he was in jail for terrorism offences, the psychiatrist who treated him says.

'Far fewer' refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar in Iraq: US says

US military advisers say there are ‘‘far fewer’’ refugees stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq than previously thought, meaning the prospects of an immediate international rescue mission have receded.

Asylum seeker children 'will wait two months' for counselling

Can the Australian government legally hold people on a ship while organising to take them somewhere else?

'Perilous' Iraq situation might require further Australian help, says Tony Abbott

The security situation in Iraq "remains perilous" and Australia is still discussing with international partners how it can further help the strife-torn country, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned.

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo