2014-08-13 The French have expressed concern about the deteriorating situation facing the Christians in Iraq and that of the Kurds in various ways.
In early August, French Bishops visited Iraqi Christians to demonstrate their support.
According to the Vatican in a piece released on August 5, 2014:
Last week, Cardinal Barbarin and two other French bishops visited Christian communities affected by the ongoing conflict and unrest in Iraq, reported Vatican Radio.
During their four-day trip which included stops in Karakosh, Alqosh, Kirkuk and Erbil, they met numerous Christians who fled Mosul last month because of the threats from Islamic extremists to either convert to Islam, pay a tax or be killed.
Upon his return to France on Friday, Cardinal Barbarin told Vatican Radio that he was moved by the joyful welcome of these communities, despite the difficulties they have lived and everything they have lost.
Despite Iraqi Christians being persecuted for centuries, their witness to faith is noteworthy, he said.
While there, the bishops met with 50 people in a school, about 200 people in a chapel and more than 1,000 people in a cathedral.
They also met with other Iraqi Christians, several times per day, in various centers in each of these cities.Saying he was strengthened by their witness as he listened to their stories, he noted the Iraqi Christians were likewise encouraged by the visit of the French bishops.
Adding to this positive sentiment, he added that the war-torn nations’ Christians said the demonstrations organized in France showing support for Iraqi Christians comforted them.
Prior to this, he said, they felt they had been forgotten.An example of support from French Catholics was their organizing a special collection for refugees who fled from Mosul.
Now adding to the support, the French government is seeking to help the Kurds answer the ISIS militant’s plea: Don’t just send Drones to kill us!
According to a New York Times story published on August 13, 2014:
Breaking ranks with other European countries, France announced on Wednesday that it would send arms to the embattled Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq threatened by Sunni militants who have also encircled refugees on a remote mountaintop.
“In order to respond to the urgent needs expressed by the Kurdistan regional authorities, the president has decided, in agreement with Baghdad, to deliver arms in the coming hours,” said a statement from the office of President François Hollande.
The presidential statement said that the population of Iraqi Kurdistan was facing a “catastrophic situation” and that arms deliveries would be coordinated with government officials in Baghdad.
Mr. Hollande noted his support for Iraq’s designated new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, and called for the quick establishment of a unity government capable of repelling advances by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
The announcement came a day after the European Union failed to establish a common policy among its 28 members but agreed that individual states could, in agreement with Baghdad, send weapons to the Kurdish peshmerga forces.
Finally, in a story published by Andrew Rettman in the European Observer:
Ambassadors at a meeting of the bloc’s Political and Security Committee in Brussels on Tuesday (12 August) agreed that individual member states are free to send weapons, but stopped short of launching an EU-level effort to support the Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga.