Statement by Deputy NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Deputy NSA for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes’ Meeting with Iraqi Yezidi Community Members
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes met today at the White House with members of the Iraqi Yezidi community to discuss the dire humanitarian situation in northern Iraq, particularly as it impacts the Yezidi community and other ethnic and religious minority groups, including Christians, Turkmen, and Shabak.
Mr. Rhodes thanked the participants for sharing their personal stories concerning the unimaginable suffering their families and loved ones in Iraq are facing at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including men, women, and children dying of starvation and thirst; the kidnappings of Yezidi women; and executions of Yezidi civilians.
Mr. Rhodes discussed the President’s decision to conduct humanitarian airdrops of food and water to the Yezidi and other civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar and to authorize targeted airstrikes to help break the siege of Mount Sinjar. He condemned ISIL’s atrocities against the Yezidi and other communities in Iraq. Echoing the President’s words of yesterday evening, he noted that the United States will act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. He emphasized that the United States will continue to pursue a strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis, including by providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces and urging Iraq’s leaders to form an inclusive government that can address the legitimate concerns of all of Iraq’s diverse communities.
Mr. Rhodes noted his admiration for the resilience of the Yezidi community, which has endured for so many centuries. He underscored that in the face of this heartbreaking tragedy, the United States of America stands with the Yezidi people; will continue to provide humanitarian support to those Yezidis who are suffering; and will work with Yezidis, the Iraqi government, and international partners to pursue a lasting solution that protects the Yezidi people.