The High Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Italy accompanied the Cardinal Filoni, special envoy of the Holy Father in Iraq in an official visit to the Kurdistan Region.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples visited the northern villages of Iraqi Kurdistan where thousands of refugees fleeing from the jihadists of the Islamic State were welcomed. The Card. Filoni has told how he was impressed by the encounter with the refugees not only Christians but also Muslims and Yazidis. He visited the camps in Duhok, Zakho, Erbil, Suleimania where he celebrated the Holy Mass and met with local political and religious authorities and representatives of humanitarian organizations such as Caritas which has a major presence on site.
On April 4th, Cardinal Filoni met the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani to which he expressed his repeated gratitude to the Kurdistan Region for their efforts at assisting the Christian refugees.
President Barzani conveyed his personal greetings to His Holiness Pope Francis, adding that the Kurdistan Region takes pride in the fact that it has historically been a region of coexistence between people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
On April 05th Cardinal Filoni met the Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to which he expressed his gratitude to the Kurdistan Regional Government for the assistance it has provided to the internally displaced people who were forced to flee the violent repression of the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS, and take refuge in the Kurdistan Region.
The Cardinal said that the current situation of the displaced people in the Kurdistan Region is significantly better than when they first arrived in the Region, hoping that the situation would return to normal soon and that the displaced persons would be able to go back to their homes and that harmony and fraternal coexistence will prevail again among the country’s various religious and ethnic groups.
The Cardinal also his and His Holiness Pope Francis’ gratitude to Prime Minister Barzani and the Kurdistan Regional Government praising the sacrifices made by the Peshmerga forces in their fight against ISIS, as well as the courage they have demonstrated in confronting terrorists in defence of all the components of the Iraqi society without any distinction.
Both sides discussed the latest political and military developments in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. They also focused on the period after defeating ISIS which would allow the displaced people to return to their homes and properties. The two sides stressed the need to help the displaced and protect them in order to ensure not only their safe return but also to resume their normal life.
Prime Minister Barzani expressed his and the his government’s appreciation for this visit by Cardinal Filoni to the Kurdistan Region and highlighted the recent visit that he and KRG officials had paid to the Vatican where they met His Holiness Pope Francis. He noted that the people and government of the Kurdistan Region believe in brotherhood and co-existence as well as unity among all the components that live together in the Kurdistan Region.
The Prime Minister stressed that the KRG will continue to provide aid for the displaced persons, hoping that the situation will soon become normal again so that the displaced can return safely back to their homes. He concluded that the Kurdistan Regional Government is ready to provide all needed assistance and ensure the provision of security for the displaced persons once they return to their place of origin.