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
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.