Canada’s international development minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, said this week that the aid provided by the country could be used to help ISIS fighters.
The comments were made by the minister during an interview with the Huffington Post Canada.
“Médecins Sans Frontières or the Red Cross, they will use the money following their own rules,” the Huffington Post quoted the cabinet minister as saying. “They will give the services to whoever needs help. Obviously, we will not get involved in any way in this once we have given money to an organization. They give food and services to the people in need, no matter where they decided to go.”
When asked whether Canada would hold on to its stance even if the money is going to an enemy combatant, the minister replied in positive.
At a press conference on Monday, while announcing Canada’s new mission against the ISIS and plans of expanding humanitarian work in Syria and surrounding areas, Bibeau said that Canada completely respects the principles of impartiality, neutrality, humanity and independence.
“It is very important that we let these organizations work in a completely independent manner and not link it to our military action, for example. It is a matter of security for these humanitarian workers,” she said on Tuesday, during the interview.
Conservative defense critic James Bezan said that according to him, the money given in aid should not be used to support ISIS militants in any way.
“We are dealing with one of the most heinous terrorist organizations that we have ever seen on the face of the Earth, and to think that some Canadian dollars could go indirectly or directly to support jihadi terrorists is unconscionable — and the government needs to rethink this immediately,” he said.
However, according to humanitarian organizations that carry out their tasks amid dangerous situations, maintaining neutrality in the delivery of the aid is important.
Stephen Cornish, the executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), said that the 1864 Geneva Conventions delineated principles of impartiality and neutrality in extending care to wounded soldiers. According to him, aid should be delivered to anybody who needs it. He also said that his government doesn’t accept any government funding, mainly to maintain the principle of neutrality.