August 19, 2016

KRG commemorates World Humanitarian Day

Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd) – ‘Today there are 60 million people worldwide who are in need of humanitarian assistance. The UN estimates it will cost $60 billion to provide for them,’ said Nancy Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Relief International, at the Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States’ commemoration of World Humanitarian Day on August 19.

The KRG Representation in Washington hosted a group of representatives of NGOs, State Department, diplomats from the Iraqi Embassy and other diplomatic missions in Washington, and the media, as well as members of the Yezidi, Christian, and Kurdish communities, for a discussion on the role that humanitarians have played in Kurdistan over the years, the current humanitarian crisis in Kurdistan, and the state of humanitarian work around the world.

KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman said, ‘On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government, I thank humanitarian workers who have helped the people of Kurdistan and around the world for decades.’

Following their remarks, Ms Wilson and Ms Abdul Rahman opened the floor for questions and discussion.

World Humanitarian Day honors humanitarian workers and volunteers who work at the front lines of crises around the world, in particular those that have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. The day corresponds with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed 22 people, including UN Special Representative in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Ms Wilson spoke about the work of her organization in Kurdistan, Syria and other parts of the world. She outlined how Relief International tries to involve the displaced and refugee communities in finding solutions to the problems they face on a day-to-day basis.

Ms Abdul Rahman spoke about the various humanitarian crises in Kurdistan since the 1960s and that most Kurds have been refugees or displaced at least once in their lifetimes. She said that was one of the reasons why the people of Kurdistan had been so welcoming of those who have fled ISIS and the Syrian conflict.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Provide Comfort, a US military and humanitarian operation that saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kurds fleeing retaliation by Saddam Hussein.

Today Kurdistan hosts more than 1.8 million displaced Iraqis and Syrians, a crisis that the UN has designated as Level III, its most severe. The upcoming liberation of Mosul is expected to displace as many as 1 million more people.
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