Foreign Ministry of Canada
September 4, 2014 – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was in Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, today to meet with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials and discuss their efforts to address the humanitarian and security situation in the region, as well as Canadian assistance. He was joined by an all-party delegation consisting of Paul Dewar, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, and Marc Garneau, Member of Parliament for Westmount-Ville-Marie.
In meetings with KRG President Masoud Barzani and Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Baird discussed the situation concerning the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“By offering safe haven to over 850,000 displaced persons internally and by engaging in direct combat with ISIL forces, the Kurdish people have shown the world their strength and their commitment to pluralism and peace,” said Baird. “Canada stands by the security forces in Iraq, including the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, in achieving this goal.”
On behalf of the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Baird also announced a further $7 million in humanitarian assistance for relief supplies, emergency shelter and urgent health care for thousands of civilians in northern Iraq as well as support to humanitarian organizations on the ground.
“As Prime Minister Harper said, ‘Canada will not stand idly by while ISIL continues its murder of innocent civilians and religious minorities,’” said Baird. “That is why I am proud that Canada is again standing with the Iraqi people by contributing humanitarian assistance to those who face ISIL’s barbarism, especially women, children and religious and ethnic minorities.”
Baird, along with his colleagues, visited an internally displaced persons camp in Erbil to witness first-hand the number of people affected. He also met with Yezidi and Christian leaders and reiterated Canada’s support for their communities and for all others persecuted by ISIL. Later, he met with Peshmerga soldiers who are risking their lives on the front line every day.
“The soldiers I met with today have demonstrated courage and determination,” said Baird. “Canada will continue to support all efforts to combat ISIL. We cannot allow this terrorist organization to continue to threaten regional and global security.”
As Baird announced yesterday in Baghdad, the Government of Canada is providing $15 million in additional security assistance, most of which will directly benefit Peshmerga forces and humanitarian efforts in the region.
A backgrounder follows.
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Backgrounder – Canada Increases Support to Conflict-Affected People in Iraq
Today, Canada announced the distribution of a second round of relief supplies from its emergency stockpile in the United Arab Emirates to meet the immediate needs of people affected by the conflict in Iraq.
The stockpile, when fully stocked, includes an array of items designed to meet the basic needs of a minimum of 5,000 families, or 25,000 people, for three months. Items include tents, blankets, kitchen sets, and hygiene kits.
Canada also announced an additional $5 million to provide emergency shelter and emergency relief supplies to conflict-affected people in northern Iraq, as well as $2 million to provide urgent health-care services.
This $7-million allocation is in addition to the $5 million in humanitarian support recently announced by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie.
This new $5 million contribution will provide:
- Kits with non-food items, including mattresses, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, blankets, solar lamps and cooking sets;
- Access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and education to raise awareness on hygiene and water conservation;
- Support to meet imminent additional winterization needs of internally displaced families; and,
- Additional support to meet emergency survival needs of internally displaced people, including medicines, clothing and money to pay for rental housing.
This new $2 million contribution will provide:
- Primary health-care services with integrated mental-health programming provided at camp-based clinics and mobile medical units;
- Mental-health and community-outreach services; and,
- Essential medical commodities to existing health facilities.
Since the beginning of 2014, Canada has allocated $28 million to respond to humanitarian needs in Iraq. In June 2014, Iraq was added to the list of Canada’s development country partners.
For more information, please visit Canada Responds to the Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq.