ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The French Consul General in Erbil on Monday reiterated his country’s humanitarian support for the Kurdistan Region which has been hosting at least two million displaced persons and refugees who fled the threat of the Islamic State (IS) from other parts of Iraq and Syria.
French Consul General Dominque Mas visited the Asthi 2 Camp in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil to meet with the site’s manager and discuss ways to facilitate the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well as ways to provide more humanitarian support.
“We are very cautious also that a lot of displaced people will still remain in the Kurdistan Region, and that is why our support will be targeting the Nineveh Plains and Mosul as well as the Kurdistan Region,” Mas told reporters following his meeting.
According to Mas, hundreds of families have returned to their homes in the Nineveh Plains, Bartella, and Qaraqosh region, but there are about 200 families from Mosul who remain due to security threats in the city.
He explained that the purpose of his visit was “to identify how we can support these families in finding a new home either in the Kurdistan Region or the Nineveh Plains.”
“Currently we have a lot of projects on psychological support specifically in the Duhok governorate,” Mas noted.
“We still have other projects in Sulaimani and Erbil, and we will still keep our humanitarian support to the Kurdish hospitals [and] to the Kurdish schools in order to host these remaining displaced people.”
Since IS’ emergence in mid-2014, Kurdistan has provided a haven for nearly 1.8 million IDPs and refugees seeking safety from the extremist group.
Mas said that “the situation is improving” in the country following the liberation of Mosul, but admitted things were “still complicated.”
“The Iraqi forces together with the Peshmerga forces liberated Mosul, liberated the Nineveh Plains, [but] in Mosul it is still complicated for some minorities to go back and live normally,” he explained. “We will be very keen in the next weeks to work out a plan to relocate these [IDPs].”
The French official also emphasized the importance of protecting minority rights in Iraq, especially the Christian and Kurdish Yezidi victims of IS violence.
“Christians, as well as all the other minorities, have a right to live in this country,” he said. “The tombs of their fathers and grandfathers are here.”