On Friday, the Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani, met with Pope Francis in the Vatican city. PM Barzani was accompanied by a delegation of other KRG officials during this visit, representing Iraqi Kurdistan.
Pope Francis thanked the KRG and Iraqi Kurdistan’s residents for taking in thousands of refugees – many of whom are Christians, and from other religious minorities – who fled from ISIS terrorists, as the internationally-designated terror group seized territory in northern Iraq in 2014.
Meanwhile, PM Barzani said that his government will continue to accommodate and support refugees, even during the ongoing crisis, which has placed the autonomous region under financial strain, as Baghdad is yet to send the KRG its share of the 2018 budget, to fund public services, and pay staff.
He also said that the Iraqi Army’s attacks against Iraqi Kurdistan, especially near the city of Kirkuk, resulted in more displacement.
“He (PM Nechirvan Barzani) stressed that the Kurdistan Region will continue to preserve the coexistence and harmony among all its religious communities, a deeply rooted tradition in the Kurdistan Region,” a KRG press release reads.
Mr Barzani also took the opportunity to say that the ongoing crisis with Iraq will only be solved via dialogue, and he urged the Iraqi government to be open to negotiations, and stop violating the constitution, and Chicago Convention (via its seizure of Iraqi Kurdistan’s airports.)