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France calls on EU to help Iraq's Kurds

RFI

French Foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius calls on the European Union to respond to appeals from Iraq's Kurds for arms to fight Islamic State jihadists, as European envoys meet in Brussels for an emergency meeting on the deepening crisis in Iraq. 

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The French government has called for a combined European effort to address the dire humanitarian situation in northern Iraq.

France and Germany said that the European Union must act quickly to organize a humanitarian effort to help the refugees in Iraq fleeing Islamic State (IS) militants.

President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement on Tuesday.

France has delivered about 18 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Iraq over the weekend. Another 20 tonnes are expected to be delivered in the next two days, and more would follow.

This comes after French Foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius met with Iraqi Kurdish president Massud Barzani over the weekend to oversee part of France's humanitarian effort. 

But as Mike Penrose, the Executive Director of the French NGO, Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) told RFI, it is important that humanitarian aid is viewed completely separately from any military involvement. Their organization cannot be associated with any military position, he says. 

"It is essential for our ongoing operations in some very difficult areas."

However Penrose does welcome the government's announcement.

"If anything it will raise further awareness of the problem. It is a desperate situation and we do welcome any announcement that stresses the humanitarian impact. There is a huge amount to do especially in the areas where we are operational. We've seen hundreds of thousands of people displaced in the last few days since the Islamic state was formed and since the fighting began."

There are more than a million people that have been displaced in Iraq due to the current or previous conflicts, and there are also 230 thousand Syrian refugees in the country.

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