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KRG Prime Minister condemns London terror attack

In a statement, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani condemned the terror attack that took place in London on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017. Below is the text of the statement:
“I strongly condemn the terror attack that took place near the British Parliament in the center of London on Wednesday. I offer my condolences to the families of the victims, the people and government of the United Kingdom and wish the injured speedy recovery.

The people of Kurdistan are in the forefront of the fight against terror and understand the wounds and pain caused by terrorism. It, therefore, stands with and sympathizes with the United Kingdom. This terror attack is yet another reminder that the international community needs more impetus to fight terrorism everywhere. It also needs further cooperation in this regard.
We reiterate our heartfelt sympathy with the families of the victims and solidarity with the United Kingdom”.
Nechirvan Barzani
Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region
March 22nd, 2017

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Prime Minister Barzani meets Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani met with Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin and her accompanying delegation.

In the meeting, attended by Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister and a number of KRG ministers, the Swedish leader commended the Kurdistan Region for sheltering and providing services for nearly two million refugees and internally displaced people.

She reiterated her country’s humanitarian and military support to the Kurdistan Region and stated that Sweden will also provide support to the areas recently liberated from the so-called Islamic State terrorist group.

The Swedish leader was briefed on the reforms undertaken by the Kurdistan Regional Government, including measures taken to strengthen the private sector.

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Deputy Prime Minister Talabani meets Canadian Minister of International Development

Kurdistan Regional Government Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani received Ms. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister of International Development and her accompanying delegation.

At the meeting, attended by Falah Mustafa, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Deputy Prime Minister Talabani expressed his government’s appreciation to the Canadian government for its support to the Kurdistan Region, particularly during the war against the so-called Islamic State terrorist group, ISIS.

He briefed the visiting delegation about KRG’s policy of reform that is being adopted recently in various sectors of the government institutions to overcome the financial crisis.

Regarding the war against ISIS, Deputy Prime Minister Talabani discussed the recent victories marked against the so-called Islamic State terrorist group in Mosul.

He also pointed out that the political mistakes which have contributed to the emergence of ISIS in Iraq should be addressed. He stressed that the Iraqi Federal Government should take serious steps to adopt a comprehensive reconciliation plan and include the Sunni Arabs in the political and decision-making process.

While expressing appreciation for the assistance the Canadian government offered in the war against ISIS, the Head of KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa stressed the importance of strengthening the relations between Canada and the Kurdistan Region.

Minister Bibeau commended the measures taken by the KRG to overcome the difficulties the Kurdistan Region faces, particularly the policy of reform, helping among others to ease the current financial hardship. She stressed on further cooperation between the two sides that would help the KRG to benefit from Canadian government’s experience and expertise.

She also discussed and commended KRG’s measures to protect human rights, empower women and gender equality. She expressed her government’s willingness to help the KRG in training its staff in these domains.

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KRG leaders meet with US congressional delegation

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with a congressional delegation from the United States, headed by Representative Joe Wilson.

In the meeting, attended by Kurdistan Regional Government Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and a number of KRG senior officials, Congressman Wilson commended the progress made by Kurdistan military forces, the Peshmerga, in the fight against the so-called Islamic State terror group.  The U.S. lawmaker also reiterated his countries support to the Kurdistan Region.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed his appreciation to the United States and the US-led international coalition forces for the assistance provided for the Kurdistan Region in the fight against terror.

On the relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi Government, Prime Minister Barzani said while there is a good military cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad, no serious progress has been made in other fields, especially in terms of finding permanent solutions for disputed issues.

He reaffirmed KRG’s longstanding position to settle the outstanding issues through dialogue and mutual understanding.

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Prime Minister Barzani meets US Senate delegation

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Senator Robert Corker, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accompanied by a military and diplomatic delegation.

In the meeting, attended by Kurdistan Regional Government Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani and a number of KRG senior officials, Mr. Corker commended the level of cooperation between Kurdistan Region military forces, the Peshmerga, and the Iraqi army in the battle to liberate Mosul and its environs. He stressed the need for such cooperation to include other fields as well, emphasizing the key role of the Kurdistan Region in achieving a general reconciliation in Iraq.

Senator Corker also expressed his country’s support for the settlement of all the outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed his gratitude for the assistance provided by the United States and the international coalition in general to the Kurdistan Region.

While expressing satisfaction at the level of cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil at the military level, Prime Minister Barzani pointed out that no serious progress has been made in cooperation in other areas. He stressed KRG’s willingness to settle the outstanding issues between the two sides through dialogue and mutual understanding.

He also highlighted the need to set a general reconciliation plan which has so far not been discussed in Baghdad.

Prime Minister Barzani also briefed the visiting delegation about the financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region, and the measures taken by the government to ease its severity.

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The United Kingdom reaffirms its support to the Kurdistan Region

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with the United Kingdom Minister of Defense Mr. Michael Fallon and his accompanied delegation.

In the meeting, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and a number of KRG senior officials, Minister Fallon commended the Kurdistan Region and its military forces, the Peshmerga, for fighting and defeating the so-called Islamic State terror group. The British Minister also praised the Kurdistan Regional Government for sheltering and assisting close to two million refugees and internally displaced people, despite facing a hard financial crisis.

Mr. Fallon reaffirmed that his government will continue to support the Kurdistan Region.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed his appreciation to the people and government of the United Kingdom for supporting the Region in the fight against terror.

Financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region, the war in Syria and other pressing issues were discussed in the meeting.

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Prime Minister Barzani and EU Special Envoy discuss religious coexistence

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Mr. Ján Figel, Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, and his accompanying delegation.

The delegation appreciated the peaceful religious coexistence that prevails in the Kurdistan Region, stressing their support and hope for its expansion throughout Iraq.  They commended the Kurdistan Region for sheltering and assisting a very large number of refugees from Syria and internally displaced Iraqis who fled ISIS’ atrocities.

Pointing out that peaceful coexistence is inherent in Kurdistan’s culture, Prime Minister Barzani stated that the leadership has been constantly working for Kurdistan to become a factor of stability. He deemed it important that all sides promote stability and coexistence, inspired by Kurdistan’s experience as a model for the larger region in Middle East.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed his sorrow for the fact that ethnic and religious cleansing campaigns continue to occur in some places. He hoped that the post-ISIS era will be marked by an effective comprehensive reconciliation campaign, return of the internally displaced people to their places of origin, along with the introduction of a culture of peaceful coexistence, with its responsibilities, into education programmes.

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Germany reaffirms support to the Kurdistan Region

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Germany’s Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Gerd Müller, along with the head of the German Green Party and the Vice President of the Bundestag, Ms. Claudia Roth.

In the meeting attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and a number of KRG senior officials, the visiting delegation commended the Kurdistan Region for having been able to prevail over a number of hard challenges in the past two years, including the war against the Islamic State terrorist organisation, ISIS, accommodating and assisting close to two million refugees and internally displaced people, and facing a hard financial crisis.

Highlighting the military cooperation between the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga military force and the Iraqi army in the Mosul liberation operation, the delegation reaffirmed that Germany will continue its military and humanitarian support.

Mr. Müller stressed his country’s willingness to contribute to the reconstruction of the war-torn liberated areas, and helping IDPs return to their places of origin.

While expressing her appreciation for the assistance offered to the IDPs regardless their ethnic or religious origin, Ms. Claudia Roth raised questions regarding relations between Erbil and Baghdad.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the German Government for its military and humanitarian support to the Kurdistan Region.

Regarding the relations between Erbil and Baghdad, he stressed that despite a productive military cooperation between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army in the Mosul operations, Baghdad has not provided humanitarian assistance, even though injured Iraqi soldiers are treated in Kurdistan’s hospitals.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani briefed the visiting delegation on the economic difficulties caused by Baghdad’s withholding Kurdistan’s share in the Iraqi federal budget. While hoping for a better economic situation in 2017, he stressed that Germany could play a role in helping the Region to overcome its economic hardship.

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Prime Minister Barzani thanks Italy for supporting the Kurdistan Region

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti in Erbil.

In the meeting, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, Minister Pinotti commended the Kurdistan Region and its military force, the Peshmergas, for their fight against the so-called Islamic State terrorist organization.

She reaffirmed her country’s support to the Peshmerga forces, including providing military training and medical treatment for the wounded Peshmergas.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the people and government of Italy for their support to the Kurdistan Region and expressed his hope for continued cooperation between the two sides, even after the defeat of ISIS.

This was Minister Pinotti’s third visit to the Kurdistan Region as the Defense Minister of Italy.

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KRG Minister of Interior calls for urgent direct assistance to avert humanitarian catastrophe

The KRG is calling for immediate, direct assistance to minimize a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of a lack of proper shelter and medical care for civilians fleeing Mosul. The KRG has not only supported and hosted fleeing IDPs, but also provided leadership in planning humanitarian response and advocacy for resource mobilization. The purpose of this message is to alert the international community of an impending humanitarian catastrophe and to request additional resources to be provided immediately to deal with the increased burden.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is struggling to absorb and care for tens of thousands of Mosul residents fleeing the ongoing operations to liberate the city from ISIS terrorists, in addition to the 1.8 million people who had previously fled. The dramatic increase in the volume of critically injured people has flooded Kurdistan Region’s hospitals, and is overwhelming the Region’s already strained healthcare sector. Conducting adequate security screenings for incoming internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as maintaining internal security for cleared IDPs, is a responsibility that is growing rapidly in size and complexity and will soon surpass the KRG’s technical and personnel capacities.

Since the start of the operations on 17 October 2016, as of 28 January 2017, over 195,000 individuals have fled Mosul city and its periphery. The KRG’s latest data show that more than 96,000 individuals of these recently displaced people have arrived and are being cared for in Erbil and Duhok.

As military planning and preparations are underway to launch the offensive to liberate the west side of the Mosul city, it is estimated that half a million people are still living in ISIS-controlled Mosul and it is anticipated that the majority of them will flee and need the lifesaving assistance. Even, the eastern side liberated, displacement is still ongoing and on daily basis people are arriving KRI due to the dire humanitarian and security situations.

BACKGROUND:

The Kurdistan Region today hosts more than 1.8 million; 97% Syrian refugees and 40% internally displaced Iraqis, as a result of the war in Syria, the genocide by ISIS, and the ongoing operations to liberate territory from the terror group.

The displaced have arrived in Kurdistan Region destitute and often with both physical and emotional wounds. Prior to the Mosul operation, hospitals throughout the Region were flooded with refugees and IDPs, who treat those in need without discrimination and at no cost to the individual.

KRG Peshmerga troops have liberated tens of thousands of square kilometers from ISIS, including strategic towns and roads which laid the groundwork for the Mosul offensive. These gains were made at great expense, with 1,600 Peshmerga killed and nearly 10,000 seriously wounded. At the same time, a financial crisis has crippled the region, resulting from the cost of the war and humanitarian crisis, the crash in oil prices, and the federal government’s unconstitutional decision to withhold Kurdistan’s share of Iraq’s federal budget.

As a result, KRG employees, who make up the bulk of the work force, have experienced delays in their salaries and cuts to benefits and pensions. This has had a profound, negative effect on frontline Peshmerga soldiers and civil servants involved in assisting the humanitarian crisis. Additionally, the unemployment rate has increased by threefold from 3% in 2013 to 14% in 2016.

HEALTH SERVICES:

Kurdistan Region’s hospitals are already unable to provide sufficient care for the influx of injured Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga, as well as thousands of civilian IDP casualties. There are simply not enough intensive care units, recovery beds, and medical supplies to absorb all cases. Since the military operations on 17 October 2016, over (10340) injured civilians have been transferred to the hospitals in Kurdistan Region; (2340 Duhok governorate and 8000 Erbil governorate). This is apart from the huge number of wounded Iraqi soldiers and peshmarga forces. Without immediate international assistance to build the capacity of Kurdistan’s medical care, we could be heading towards a catastrophe.

The difficulty in caring for the influx is compounded by an ongoing financial crisis and the insufficient medical supplies being sent by the federal government. The financial crisis has left the KRG struggling to pay salaries of public servants, which is having a negative effect on medical professionals in the region. Qualified medical personnel are unable to work long hours required to support massive influxes of IDPs.

SHELTER:

With the support from the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displaced (MoDM) and UNHCR, the KRG has constructed 5 emergency camps for new arrivals from Mosul in Duhok and Erbil. The finished emergency camps are already fully occupied and accommodated over 26,000 families, 96,000 individuals; with support from the MoDM and partners, five additional emergency camps are being finished to create more space for the continuous flow of IDPs from Mosul.  KRI can only receive around 10,000 more of displaced families, once all camps finished. Even, the eastern side of Mosul city liberated, displacement continues due to the dire humanitarian and security situation, daily over 1000 individuals are fleeing and more than half resorting to KRI. Without international support, hundreds of thousands of IDPs will sleep rough through the cold winter months and beyond, causing inconceivable suffering and loss of lives.

Furthermore, despite having prepared a Joint Humanitarian Contingency Plan in June 2016 for Ninewa and constant calls for support to Baghdad, UN agencies, and donors, the KRG has not received any direct financial support to care for Mosul’s injured. Today the KRG covers all operational, administrative, protection and security costs of the camps and reception centres, totaling more than 3.5 million USD monthly. The KRG has been providing several essential services to IDPs; continuing to provide support at the current level requires direct financial and technical assistance from international partners.

SECURITY CONCERNS:

In cooperation with the Government of Iraq and humanitarian partners, the KRG upholds the humanitarian principles of impartiality in protection and continues to support the well-being of displaced people, including providing safe passage to civilians fleeing the battlefield to reach safe areas. Peshmerga troops have liberated thousands of square kilometers from ISIS, and have secured, cleared, and repopulated dozens of villages in Nineveh.

Recent IDP arrivals from Mosul have lived under ISIS rule for more than two years, and our assessments suggest ISIS is attempting to infiltrate Kurdistan through them. Consequently, arriving IDPs must be properly screened before they are permitted to enter displacement camps in Kurdistan. This task is complex and time-consuming, and as IDP influxes increase, KRG security services are concerned that it will overwhelm their capacity.

In addition, ISIS’ campaign of genocide in Iraq shattered trust among local communities, particularly between the numerous ethnic and religious groups who lost their homes to the terror group. As a result, the potential for a conflagration of retaliatory and revenge attacks between groups is very high. Preventing this is our priority but it needs international assistance.

Since the start of violence in Syria began displacing people to Kurdistan, the KRG has been on the front lines of sheltering and caring for displaced people. Today, Kurdistan hosts more than 1.8 million displaced Iraqis and Syrians, representing a 32% increase in the region’s population.  The operations to liberate Mosul have displaced (195,000) people and this number is increasing daily. The responsibility to care for them is shared by the KRG, the GoI, and the international community.

The KRG has not only supported and hosted fleeing IDPs, but also provided leadership in planning humanitarian response and advocacy for resource mobilization. The purpose of this message is to alert the international community of an impending humanitarian catastrophe and to request additional resources to be provided immediately to deal with the increased burden.

I call upon all partners, the Iraqi government and all donor countries and members of the International Coalition to act with urgency in providing funds and material and technical assistance directly to the KRG to mitigate risks and minimize human suffering. Urgent financial support is critical for KRG institutions to respond effectively and efficiently to the massive humanitarian emergency that continues to unfold.
Karim Sinjari
Minister of the Interior
Kurdistan Regional Government