These children all have names
3rd July 2015
A close colleague David from Poland, representing charity donors, visited for one week to help with the distribution of humanitarian aid collected by us and other EU donor companies In Kurdistan. There are approximately 1.8 million refugees distributed over three provinces; Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniyah. There are 0.8 million of them in Duhok alone (where the population before their arrival was less than 1.2 million). Local relief agencies are fully stretched in trying to cope with this huge increase. Together with goods collected by Jewish and Christian charities. His audio report and photos shocked me to the core.
There was a sea of thousands of tents, each tent with another heart-wrenching story. He introduced himself as a Jew from Poland; his family were victims of the holocaust seventy years ago. He delivered new clothing, nappies, toiletries, boots and shoes for all ages. Moreover he delivered hope.
These refugees have lost everything, their homes and possessions; livelihoods; their loved ones and their dignity. They have also lost hope. Refugees from Syria, Yezidies from Sinjar, Christians and Muslims from Southern Iraq have been driven from their homes. They have fled for their lives. Parents, sons and daughters, cousins and uncles and aunties have been victims of ISIS attacks - and many themselves have been victims of the atrocities. Family members are missing. Children are disappearing in large numbers. David heard from the aid workers that thousands of children had been kidnapped from the refugee camps and were being sold for $50 each. The stories were unbelievably shocking and upsetting.
Small children wept and told David, how they’d witnessed their parents and family members being murdered before their eyes - deplorable violence and decapitations. They trembled and cried and told of the violence they’d somehow escaped. Protected behind barbed-wire to keep them safe, David was chilled by the sight of them and as pictures of the holocaust flashed through his head. Hitler had given people numbers. Each of these children had a name.
David discussed with the aid workers how the West could help could help and send more goods before the bitter winter 2015. He was told that 6,000 people had died of the cold during the last winter months and the need for warm clothing and bedding was urgent. David was very impressed by the Kurdish people and how they are helping all refugees in their own region, no matter what their religious background. This exemplary attitude is crucial in these difficult times. David promised to tell the story and publicise the plight and despair of these people, all victims of circumstance. I am helping him fulfil that promise, and maybe you can help me by circulating this story.
On the subject of publicity, David was further shocked when the aid workers became visibly nervous of ISIS repercussions if their photos were publicised. Permission has been given by the aid workers on-site to publish the pictures within this article. In Kurdistan there are approximately 1.8 million refugees distributed over three provinces; Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniyah. There are 0.8 million of them in Duhok alone (where the population before their arrival was less than 1.2 million). Local relief agencies are fully stretched in trying to cope with this huge increase.