Pope Francis received Friday Massoud Barzani, president of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan province where there is a very ancient Christian community that has grown with the influx of refugees from the rest of Iraq and Syria, said the Vatican .
While violence peaked in Iraq, more than 4,000 died in violence since the beginning of the year, this autonomous region, after having long been an area of conflict at the time of Saddam Hussein, has become an area safer in a particularly difficult environment.
This is the first time that the Pope received Barzani who is the head of the autonomous region since 2005.
The province of Kurdistan is home to over 200,000 Syrian refugees, including many Kurds but also Christians.
These would be more in the region of 30,000. Among them also Christians who have left Baghdad and other cities further south to find a security, tolerance and greater freedom.
According to Bishop Rabban Al Qas, bishop of Amadiyah-Zahko interviewed by Vatican Radio, he breathes an air of “freedom” in the region, even if it “is not a paradise,” this freedom attracting private entrepreneurs and allowing some economic development.