German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Baghdad Saturday after Berlin’s aid reached strife-ridden Iraq. The German aid delivery is the first in a series it planned after the European Union’s foreign ministers agreed that EU countries can provide support to the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic militants in Iraq.
The recently arrived plane is the first of five scheduled to land in the northern Iraq city of Irbil to help the people affected by violence in the region. Meanwhile, German officials hinted there might be more deliveries to Iraq in the coming week. Germany’s aid was dispatched following the EU decision made at an emergency meeting Friday.
Steinmeier said Saturday he had “great hopes” that Iraq’s prime minister-designate, Haider al-Abadi, would be a leader who could “embody the different regions and religions in a joint government,” according to Deutsche Welle, a German news agency.
“The aim of this trip is obvious: to get an immediate picture of the situation on the ground, and to determine by direct talks what kind of help they would like Germany to provide,” a representative of the German foreign ministry said, Deutsche Welle reported.
The EU is increasingly concerned about Islamic State violence in the region, as officials estimate more than 1,700 people from France, Germany and the U.K. have joined the militant group in Iraq and Syria, where it has taken control over large areas.
“The present military success of the Islamic State is having a lot of attraction on many young people, even inside Europe, who find this quite thrilling and are quite eager to join forces,” a senior EU official said, according to Al Jazeera.
Last week, the U.S. ordered airstrikes in Iraq to assist Kurdish forces fighting in the region, while the country has also delivered several rounds of humanitarian aid, including food and medicines, to help the Yazidis stuck on Mount Sinjar. Washington also sent a 20-person mission to help the Yazidis evacuate from Sinjar, but after the would-be rescuers reached the location, they found the situation was not as bad as expected.