Kurds raise oil funds for refugees

Help needed to address fallout from Islamic State.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Aug. 29, 2014 at 10:39 AM

ERBIL, Iraq, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Kurdish government of Iraq said it's expanding a humanitarian initiative tied to oil operations to address the influx of refugees fleeing the Islamic State.

The Sunni-led Islamic State, a terrorist group known also as the Islamic State of Iraqi and Syria, has squared off against Kurdish forces as it tries to expand its claims to territory in the region.

The semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government said Friday it was broadening its Kurdistan Oil and Gas Humanitarian Initiative to extend to new refugees and internally displaced persons.

"The Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources is pleased that a number of oil companies in the Kurdistan region have already asked how they can support humanitarian efforts for the massive new influx of refugees and IDPs," it said in a statement. "With the expansion of KOGHI, companies have an already established framework for providing funds."

The Kurdish government says it launched the initiative in 2013 alongside oil and natural gas companies operating in the region. It said the fund has generated $15 million in aid donations so far.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday she was appalled by the widespread human rights abuses carried out by the Islamic State.

"They are systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and are ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under their control," she said in a statement.

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