Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani yesterday chaired the KRG Council of Minister’s customary weekly meeting to discuss the current situation in the Kurdistan Region.
Prime Minister Barzani summarised the events that have taken place over the last two weeks, including the terrorist attacks. He highlighted the situation in Sinjar and the status of displaced Yezidis and Christians, explaining that he has been closely following the KRG response in the Duhok governorate. He indicated that this is a humanitarian crisis and requires international aid and support.
Acts committed against Yezidi Kurds constitute genocide
The Prime Minister emphasised that the crimes committed against the Yezidis by the terrorists constitute genocide by every measure, and these acts are the worst crimes perpetrated against the people of Kurdistan since the Halabja attack and the Anfal campaign. The KRG therefore requests that the Iraqi Council of Representatives formally recognizes the acts committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) against the Yezidi Kurds as genocide and treats the situation accordingly.
International and domestic support
Prime Minister Barzani expressed his gratitude to the United States of America, President Barack Obama, and European countries that responded to the situation and supported the Kurdistan Region. He reiterated that the KRG is receiving full support, as the Region is at the forefront of the world’s fight against terrorism. He added that the whole world must fight this battle together, and that the terrorists should be eliminated from Kurdistan, Iraq, and the wider region.
The Prime Minister thanked the people of Kurdistan, particularly the people of Duhok and Syrian Kurdish refugees residing in the Kurdistan Region. Despite being victims themselves, they have collected aid and provided support from the first day to assist the displaced people from Sinjar. He urged relevant ministries to assume responsibility for that which is required to assist the displaced. He also thanked the Ministry of Natural Resources for quickly making available the financial support to help relevant government bodies as they assist the displaced.
Peshmerga make steady gains, defense sector to be reformed
Prime Minister Barzani also pointed out that substantive military reform is underway. On the front, the Peshmerga forces are advancing in all locations. He said, “The horizon is bright, and what has happened will prompt us to review our shortcomings and mistakes and pay particular importance to defense sector reform.”
The Minister of Peshmerga Affairs explained that Peshmerga forces and other elements of the security apparatus are confronting the terrorists along the Kurdistan Region border, inflicting severe damage upon the terrorists. He highlighted that the absence of a national and professionally trained force in the Kurdistan Region is a weakness among the Peshmerga forces that must be solved. He also explained that plans to retake all of the locations overtaken by terrorists are currently under study. International support and the arrival of weapons from the United States and Europe continue, and the weapons will be distributed among the Peshmerga forces at the battlefronts based on a plan and according to their requirements.
KRG requires financial assistance to provide basic needs to displaced
The Minister of Finance and Economy requested special budget allocation and flexibility regarding the regular financial guidelines in order to provide urgent necessities to the displaced. He indicated that the humanitarian situation in the Duhok governorate is beyond the capacity of governorate and KRG officials and resources. Despite the difficult economic circumstances facing the Kurdistan Region, the Duhok governorate and local organisations quickly came to the aid of the displaced people, a gesture worthy of commendation. He reiterated that so far government bodies have not received any financial assistance. The necessities are so vast that the KRG should be provided with financial aid in order to support the internally displaced and refugees, he said.
Logistic, health, and educational considerations for the displaced
The Minister of Planning summarised the number and location of IDPs and refugees, indicating that most are in the Duhok governorate. He explained that there are more than 600,000 IDPs and refugees in the province, and 275,000 require immediate accommodation. There is now a census to register the number of displaced people and refugees caused by the recent events in order to issue identity cards and determine their locations and basic needs. The exact numbers remain unclear because they are scattered and reside in different locations because there are not enough camps to accommodate them.
The Minister of Health stated that there are currently no epidemic diseases among IDPs or refugees, but he fears such a situation could arise. It is therefore essential to pay attention to the health of the displaced and assure the provision of clean drinking water. He noted that the federal government is helping the KRG to provide medicine. Pharmaceutical companies are also helping the Ministry by loaning medicine.
The Minister of Education reiterated that accommodation should be provided to the displaced as soon as possible. If the schools currently accommodate them are not cleared before the beginning of the forthcoming academic year, approximately 500,000 students will be affected.
KRG presents highest honor to helicopter pilot al-Tamimi
The Council of Ministers expressed its condolences to the family of helicopter pilot Majid Abdulsalam al-Tamimi, who died in the helicopter crash while rescuing Yezidi civilians and delivering aid on Mount Sinjar. The Council declared that he is to be considered a martyr in the Kurdistan Region, and a statue will be dedicated to him in a public place in Kurdistan to ensure the memory of his actions. A formal letter of condolence will be sent to his family on behalf of the KRG.
Council of Ministers decisions
Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani suggested the establishment of a special body to deal with emergencies, and the Council of Ministers decided to form a committee to study the establishment of such a body. It was decided to conduct a census to determine the exact number of IDPs and refugees and provide them with accommodation as soon as possible. The KRG will work with the relevant United Nations agencies in this regard.
The Council of Ministers decided to form a government committee to gather and document photos, video footage, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence in order to register legal action in international courts and assure that ISIS actions in Sinjar and surrounding areas are recognised as genocide. This would be applicable in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and at an international level.
The Council of Ministers applauded the unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution designed to disarm ISIS terrorists and its call to the international community to provide international aerial protection in Sinjar and surrounding areas to protect ethnic and religious minorities facing persecution by the terrorists.
Finally, the Council of Ministers congratulated Prime Minister designate Haider al-Abadi upon his nomination to form a new Iraqi government, expressing hope that this step can help to settle outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad.