In the week before Christmas, the Austro-Kurdish Youth-Initiative and the Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in Austria distributed the first donations among Christian and Yezidi refugee families in the Kurdistan Region.
The relief campaign is aimed at those among the 1.5 million displaced persons who have not been able to take shelter in one of the refugee camps due to the massive capacity shortages, and which are now living in precarious conditions on the street, in schools, or in unfinished buildings. With the total sum of 22,000 Euro, which were collected in Austria by the beginning of December, 150 families could be supported in order to buy essentials such as warm clothing and food for themselves.
Didar Shwan, initiator of the campaign “Give Families Hope”, describes her impressions of the trip: “The families which we met were heavily traumatized by the flight from the terror of IS. Now they may be in safety, but they are forced to live under inhumane conditions; some even live in chicken houses. The smell alone was unbearable, let alone the fact that they use a blanket for a door and that it is extremely cold due to the harsh winter.”
Dr. Mustafa Ramazan, KRG Representative in Austria, is pleased with how the campaign has been going so far: “With this first handover of donations to the refugee families, which were not able to find an accommodation in one of the camps, we have made a small contribution to easing the unbelievable suffering. We hope that the impressions we have gathered will animate people here in Austria to continue donating. Every donation counts, no matter how little, because every Euro reaches those in need to 100%.”
After the arrival in Arbil, the delegation first had an appointment in the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Health to be briefed in regard to the current situation and the latest developments. Together, they identified Pirzeen in Arbil Province and Hezar Joot in Dohuk Province, since the local refugees, in particular Christians from the Qaraqosh as well as families from the Sinjar Region, are particularly in need.
The donations originate from two campaigns: On the one hand from the Austro-Kurdish Youth-Initiative “Give Families Hope”, which was already featured in the Austrian newspaper “Kurier”, and on the other hand from the call for donations by the Kurdistan Regional Government-Iraq Representation in Austria, including revenues from the benefit concert “Beats4Minorities” and from the sale of the music compilation “For the People”.
For Didar Shwan, this trip was only a first step: “It makes me extremely sad to see people suffer in such a way, while we in Austria possess so much. The worst was the fear in the eyes of the women and the innocent faces of the children, who had to walk around without shoes or only in sandals in winter. That’s why it is clear to me that we will intensively continue collecting donations in the upcoming weeks. We hope to further receive the generous support of the Austrian and Kurdish community, because every Euro counts!”
The next donation handover is planned for March before the Kurdish New Year’s celebration Newroz. If you would like to donate, visit the website Give Families Hope or use our donation account:
Donation account KRG Vertretung Österreich
IBAN: AT62 1200 0100 0921 1292
Keyword “KRG Flüchtlingshilfe Christen & Jesiden in Region Kurdistan-Irak”
Following, you can find a video with impression of the trip to Kurdistan and the visit of the refugees.