On Sunday, 11 January 2015, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, met with the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani, and with other KRG officials in Erbil.
The ICRC President briefed President Barzani and the other officials about their operations in Kurdistan, in particular their regular visits to detention centers, providing aid to the civilians in conflict zones, and their efforts to help IDPs return to their liberated towns and villages. Mr Maurer described the challenges faced by humanitarian workers in the field, such as reaching people in need and delivering aid and health care in areas affected by the violence. He expressed his appreciation to the KRG for its close cooperation with ICRC local staff and hoped that this cooperation would continue. Mr Maurer further stated: “I am encouraged by the commitment of the leaders I have met to sparing and protecting civilians from violence by ensuring that the armed and security forces respect international humanitarian law”.
During his six day visit to the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, President Maurer witnessed the difficult conditions endured by people as a result of ongoing fighting, long periods of displacement, loss of property, and freezing temperatures. He joined ICRC teams distributing food and other relief and visited a facility that provides clean drinking water to displaced people.
“This week I have heard heartbreaking stories of families uprooted violently from their homes and separated from their loved ones,” said Mr Maurer. “The people of Iraq have shown extraordinary solidarity with their fellow countrymen and women who have fled the violence in their thousands. When the ICRC comes to deliver aid to the displaced, it finds that local communities have already received these people in distress with open arms and great generosity. But in the face of the enormous suffering of the displaced and the additional pressure on host communities and services, we all have a duty to ensure that their basic needs in terms of food, water, health care and shelter are met.”
President Barzani expressed full KRG support for the work that ICRC has been conducting in the Kurdistan Region and pledged continued support for their operations. He also reiterated KRG commitment to international humanitarian laws and welcomed ICRC’s efforts to help IDPs return to their homes.