Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds group meets with KRG Christian Affairs Director General
Ottawa, October 27, 2016 - Yesterday, the Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds Group hosted Khalid Jamal Alber, Director General for Christian Affairs with Kurdistan's Ministry of Religious Affairs; Malath Baythoon, an Iraqi Kurdish pastor of Erbil’s Christian Missionary Alliance Church; and John Clayton, Director of Programs with Samaritan's Purse Canada, to discuss Canada’s ongoing role to support refugees and internally displaced persons in the post-Mosul liberation as well as discuss religious minority rights across Northern Iraq.
“The efforts of Canadian citizens, NGOs, and churches are making a great difference to ensure that Iraq’s most vulnerable populations such as Yazidis and Christians receive support for their basic needs and aid with post-conflict effects,” said Mr. Kmiec.
Many of those seeking refuge in Iraq’s Kurdistan region are Christians who have been fleeing the advance of Daesh. To date the number of Christians in Iraq has decreased to 200,000 from the almost 1.8 million there in 2003. Kurdistan has been accommodating by renovating abandoned villages to house refugees with the aid from NGO’s such as Samaritan’s Purse Canada in Calgary, Alberta who has been there from the beginning of the crisis and continues to provide relief supplies and programming, focusing mostly on helping Yazidis and Christians who have been singled out for severe persecution by the IS.
Mr. Alber shared with the Group details of his humanitarian work in Iraq and shed some light on the current conditions of those living in the Kurdish refugee camps. Lack of consistent funding has proven to hinder relief efforts but said that Kurds have nothing but appreciation for Canadians who have contributed generously through faith based organizations and have supported the Peshmerga in their combat operations against Daesh forces.
The Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds is an all-party group founded in 2015 by Tom Kmiec, MP for Calgary Shepard, including parliamentarians from all parties with a focus on democratic and legislative education, consular affairs, and the promotion of peace in the Middle East.