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Baird Visits Kurdistan Regional Government, Reiterates Canada’s Support of Efforts Against ISIL

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.

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High Council for Investment reviews economic situation and housing legislation

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani yesterday chaired a meeting of the Kurdistan Region’s High Council for Investment to discuss various issues related to investment and the economy.

In the meeting, implications of the current situation and the latest developments in the Kurdistan Region were discussed, as well as the economic crisis and the effects that Baghdad’s decision to withhold the KRG budget have had upon investment and projects currently under construction in various sectors. Possible solutions to manage the economic and financial difficulties in the Kurdistan Region were also raised in order to encourage continued investment in all sectors.

The Council stressed the importance of speeding up approval of the draft legislation for the Housing Board in order to regulate guidelines for housing projects and licenses based on such legislation, as some projects have been suspended in the absence of this law. The law would address individuals and families with low income and would ensure that they are among the first candidates to benefit from low-income housing projects.

The High Council for Investment also decided to review the guidelines set for licensing investment projects, especially for companies that seek to begin or continue construction and are awaiting the new legislation. The Council decided to form a committee to review all projects in industrial, tourism, and agricultural sectors and make decisions accordingly.

The Investment Council also formed a committee to investigate claims filed by companies affected by the current economic and financial situation in the Kurdistan Region. Many of these companies are seeking project extensions because they could not continue or complete their projects, and have been delayed. The committee will examine each project separately, for each company, to prevent any market exploitation amid the circumstances.

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KRG – United Nations Joint Press Statement

SAT, 30 AUG 2014 19:59 | KRG.org

Kurdistan region of Iraq (KR-I) most affected by recent wave of violence with over 850,000 displaced Iraqis this year

Up to 1,8 Million Iraqis nationwide have been displaced since January 2014

Erbil: A comprehensive count carried out jointly by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the United Nations indicates that some 850,000 Iraqis have been displaced and sought refuge in all three Kurdistan Region governorates since January 2014. According to the Kurdish Ministry of Planning and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) the vast majority of the recently displaced people – 64 per cent – have sought refuge in the Duhok Governorate.

Of the 1.8M Iraqis displaced nationwide, it is estimated that over 600,000 people were displaced this month alone. This increase is due to an upsurge of violence in various parts of the country, particularly Ninewa, Diyala and Anbar.

The latest figures compiled by the Kurdish Regional Government under the leadership of the Minister of Planning and IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, show that the displaced population are now living in more than 1,000 sites in the Kurdistan region of Iraq alone.

The latest waves of IDPs to the Kurdistan region, more than 850,000 in 2014, plus some 216,000 Syrian refugees registered by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), and previous large population movements of around 335,000 which took place prior to 2014,brings the total number of people who sought refuge in the Kurdistan region of Iraq to 1.4 million. These latest waves add to the very heavy burden borne by the people and government of the KR-I.

Duhok Governorate’s seven districts now host over half a million people seeking shelter, food, water, medicine and protection after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized territory in Sinjar and neighbouring communities prompting them to flee. Since August, 89 per cent of all displaced in the Kurdistan region went to the Duhok Governorate.

Due to the rapid influx of people and their wide dispersal throughout the Kurdistan region, it has been difficult for the regional government and UN agencies to quickly conduct an accurate count of the displaced population. While this first count provides a much needed level of accuracy, the Ministry of Planning will conduct a full survey of the affected governorates in the coming months that will provide greater details on the situation and the needs of the displaced people. The UN will be closely associated to this operation, providing material and financial support.

“This is a first but crucial step in the process of bringing life-saving aid to communities in desperate need of assistance. The Kurdish Regional Government is swiftly evaluating the situation to see what can be done with our partners. In the coming weeks we will have a clearer strategy but the reality is that challenges are immense. For now, we will continue establishing camps for as many displaced people as possible,” said Dr. Ali Sindi, KRG Minister of Planning.

The UN is supporting the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in delivering emergency aid and is scaling up its efforts to meet the needs of the displaced throughout Iraq.

“This is a challenging operation and the United Nations, and its NGO partners, are fully committed to meeting that challenge. Thousands of tons of relief supplies have already been delivered and hundreds of staff deployed. The humanitarian response is difficult due to security concerns and the massive and rapid influx of displaced but our efforts have been greatly aided by the splendid cooperation and leadership of the KRG government and the many residents who have taken in displaced families by the tens of thousands. This displaced crisis is as complex as the displacement that occurred in 1991 and it will require a sustained sense of urgency by all authorities and the international community to organize and deliver the large scale assistance that is needed,” said Kevin Kennedy, the United Nations Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Governorate Number of IDPs, August Percentage (%) August Number of IDPs, 2014 Percentage(%) 2014
Duhok 418,986 89% 543,384 64%
Erbil 42,276 9% 170,544 20%
Sulaymaniyah

& Garmyan

11,166 2% 136,920 16%
Total in KR – I 472,428 100% 850,848 100%