Iraq Crisis: AU Hands in $5M Humanitarian Aid; 150 Aussies Join ISIS

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By Athena Yenko | June 19, 2014 3:18 PM EST

Amid the Iraq crisis, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has recently announced Australia is giving $5 million humanitarian aid.

REUTERS/ Wissm al-Okili
Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a military-style training in Baghdad, June 18, 2014. Iraq has asked the United States for air support in countering Sunni rebels, the top U.S. general said on Wednesday, after the militants seized major cities in a lightning advance that has routed the Shi'ite-led government's army

"Today I announce that Australia will provide $5 million in assistance to support the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence in north and northwest Iraq, resulting in a serious humanitarian crisis. We express our deepest condolences for the loss of life in recent attacks, and our grave concern at the widespread displacement of Iraqis and damage to property," Bishop said in a statement.

Bishop added the Australian government strongly condemns the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and will support all humanitarian efforts from the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in support for the people displaced by the crisis. Australia will work with the World Food Programme and the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees to ensure all humanitarian aid reaches those in dire need.

"The Australian government continues to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of to extend humanitarian support to those displaced by ISIL aggression. Australia's assistance will help protect people as they flee to safety, and provide food, medical assistance, tents, access to clean water and hygiene kits," Bishop noted.

The government is also issuing a severe warning against Australians who are fighting with the ISIS and planning to travel back into the country.

Bishop revealed intelligence agencies confirmed that there were already 150 Australians who have joined the ISIS.

"I had an intelligence briefing from our agencies this morning and our best estimate is that there are about 150 Australians ... who have been or are still fighting with opposition groups in Syria and beyond," Bishop said on ABC Radio.

"These are brutal people (in ISIS). The executions and the killings and their boasting of it on social  media makes this a particularly virulent form of terrorism. These people are so extreme that al-Qa'ida is even distancing itself from them," the foreign minister added.

She stressed these Australians are becoming highly radicalized that they bring severe security risk if they will travel back into the country. She cited she already canceled several passports following the advisory given by the intelligence agencies.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned the government is keeping a close watch against these Australians.

"We are redoubling our vigilance at our borders to try to ensure that jihadists do not gain access to our country, or are monitored if they have the right access to this country," Abbott said during a press conference in  Canberra.

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(Photo: REUTERS/ Wissm al-Okili / REUTERS/ Wissm al-Okili)
Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a military-style training in Baghdad, June 18, 2014. Iraq has asked the United States for air support in countering Sunni rebels, the top U.S. general said on Wednesday, after the militants seized major cities in a lightning advance that has routed the Shi'ite-led government's army
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