ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday commended the role of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against the Islamic State and described the German-built military hospital in the autonomous Kurdistan Region as “crucial.”
“It was very important for us because we’ve seen the courageous fight of Peshmerga against Da’esh [Islamic State], to help overtime to restructure and rebuild what [has] been damaged,” Leyen told Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan, who asked about Germany’s future contribution efforts in Iraq.
“We know that infrastructure for medical help is needed and necessary in northern Iraq and, therefore, building this hospital [Peshmerga Hospital] for us is crucial,” she added.
The German Defense Minister noted her country is “committed mainly to train medical doctors, to train the personnel within the hospital, and to equip the hospitals so that it’s working overtime.”
Leyen’s comments came ahead of meetings with other defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Feb. 13 and 14.
Germany is a member of the US-led coalition which has provided humanitarian, logistics, and military support to the Kurdistan Region over the past few years.
As part of its support to the Kurdistan Region, Germany completed the construction of the Peshmerga Hospital and officially handed it over to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Jan. 31.
The total cost of the hospital’s construction was about $5 million, and its completion took 16 months. Various Kurdish officials and the US-led coalition commanders attended the ceremony.
The hospital, located in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil, will officially be open to Peshmerga fighters on April 24, Eza Nawzad, the Director of Peshmerga Hospital, recently told Kurdistan 24.
Local nurses and doctors under the supervision of the German government will work at the hospital, Rebin Zekhani, the deputy director of medical affairs for the Peshmerga forces, previously told Kurdistan 24.
Over the past few years, the Kurdish Peshmerga have been one of the most efficient ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State. About 2,000 Peshmerga fighters have been killed while fighting the extremist group, and over 10,000 more wounded, according to the Peshmerga Ministry.
Since 2014, the lack of advanced and necessary medical equipment in the Kurdistan Region has led to over 100 severely injured Peshmerga fighters being sent abroad to receive proper treatment.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Barzan Hassan)