German support for the Kurds

Fight against IS German support for the Kurds

Germany is willing to provide the Kurds in northern Iraq with arms and ammunition. The government will decide on the arms supplies by Sunday, said Chancellor Angela Merkel in an interview. She will give a government statement in the German Bundestag on Monday.

In an interview with the German broadcaster MDR the Chancellor said, with respect to the decision to supply arms. "We aim to be thorough and would rather take one day longer, because these are very important decisions. The matter will then be debated in the German Bundestag on Monday. I will be giving a government statement and the Bundestag can obtain information and debate the issue."

On 1 September, the German Bundestag will meet for a special session dedicated to support for the Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) militants.

Federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert explained that the considerations as to which systems are to be supplied and on what scale are still ongoing. As well as the assessment being performed by the Bundeswehr, the supply of arms and ammunition will be the subject of consultations with the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs.

Once these assessment have been completed, and following international consultations, "the Chancellor will meet on Sunday with the ministers responsible, and the final decision will be taken," explained Steffen Seibert.

Putting an end to the activities of the IS militants

At the start of this week Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview that this is an "exceptional case, of a sort we have not seen to date". When we are asked to supply arms and ammunition on a limited scale, we cannot simply say that it is impossible, she added.

Now, we can help put an end to the activities of the terrorist militants, said the Chancellor. "We have weighed up all the arguments and concluded that the arguments in favour of taking action prevail."

Horror at the brutality of the IS

Last Wednesday the German government declared itself willing to supply arms in addition to humanitarian supplies and equipment such as helmets and flak jackets. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced this at a joint press conference with Federal Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. "All these supplies aim to enable Kurdish security forces to defend themselves against IS attacks." The EU foreign ministers agreed at a special meeting to permit arms supplies to the Kurds in the fight against the IS terrorists in Iraq.

Aid for refugees

Germany responded swiftly to the worsening humanitarian situation among refugees and has begun to supply humanitarian aid directly to northern Iraq. The Bundeswehr has already flown 36 tonnes of aid supplies to Erbil, including food, blankets and medical supplies. Another batch of humanitarian supplies commissioned by the Federal Foreign Office landed in Erbil on Monday.

The Bundeswehr has since continued to fly in aid for the desperate population of northern Iraq. In the early hours of 22 August a planeload of supplies took off for Erbil, with some 70 tonnes of food from Bundeswehr stocks on board along with eight and a half tonnes of medical supplies provided by the Republic of Austria.

Germany is providing a total of 24.4 million euros for emergency humanitarian aid. The assistance is to be provided swiftly and unbureaucratically to the people in Iraq through aid organisations such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme and NGOs operating in country.

Since this crisis erupted, the German government has provided more than 26 million euros to help internally displaced persons in northern Iraq.

Measures to date:
- The Federal Foreign Office has provided 2.85 million euros to fund the emergency activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- The Federal Foreign Office has provided 3.2 million euros to fund the emergency measures of non-governmental organisations, with a special focus on providing food aid for internally displaced persons in Zakho District, in the Governorate of Dohuk.
- The Federal Development Ministry has provided 20 million euros to fund measures to improve the overstretched infrastructure in municipalities and refugee camps run by the World Food Programme (setting up kitchens), UNICEF (water supplies and sanitation, education and child protection), and non-governmental organisations and churches.

So far the Bundeswehr and the Federal Foreign Office have flown in 9 planeloads of aid carrying a total of 143 tonnes of supplies, including 107 tonnes of food, 1.8 tonnes of medical equipment (enough to provide emergency care for a total of 20,000 people for a period of 3 months), 6 tonnes of additional medical supplies, 7.1 tonnes of kitchen and household equipment and 21 tonnes of tents and blankets.