The Suleyman Kerimov Foundation in Kurdistan

Logo of the Barzani Charity Foundation

The Suleyman Kerimov Foundation’s activities are certainly not limited to Russia. They are active all over the world, wherever their support is most needed. This article will showcase one such project partly funded by the Foundation, located in northern Iraq. In this case, the recipient of the grant is an aid organization that does important work supporting refugees, particularly child refugees, fleeing war and destruction.

After the war in Iraq and the subsequent destabilization of much of the region, a new kind of aid agency was needed to cope with the humanitarian crisis emerging in Kurdistan, an area of primarily Kurdish-speaking peoples encompassing northern Iraq, north-eastern Syria, north-western Iran, and south-eastern Turkey. In northern Iraq, hundreds of thousands of families were forced to abandon their homes because of fighting between various armed groups, particularly in the city of Mosul and the surrounding area, mainly fleeing south to the relatively safer cities of Erbil and Kirkuk. In Syria, around 6.5 million people were displaced by intense fighting between several rival factions struggling for power in a war that has now been raging for several years.

The extent of Kurdistan, over the years

The Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF) was founded in Erbil, Iraq, in 2005 to provide support to refugees and internally displaced people fleeing violence, responding to a need that was felt for a locally-based organization who understood the local culture and history and the needs of the people on the ground. It is named after the well-known Kurdish figure Mustafa Barzani and inspired by one of his famous quotes: “It is a privilege to serve one’s own people.” The organization has the consent of both the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to operate an apolitical, non-profit, non-governmental aid agency, providing education, medical services, and shelter to the region’s refugees, as well as the reconstruction of homes, villages and infrastructure destroyed by war once the fighting has moved on.

Mustafa Barzani, the primary Kurdish political

and military leader until his death in 1979.

In 2014, recognizing the importance of the work being done by the BCF in mitigating the refugee crisis in Iraq and Syria, the Suleyman Kerimov Foundation decided to provide a grant to the organization allowing them to expand their activities and employ a greater number of trained professionals for work in the field. Thanks to this and other financial support provided by international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Food Program, and the Red Crescent, BCF is now able to provide aid and humanitarian assistance to all the displaced people across the three Kurdistan Region Provinces, which currently host more than 1.8 million refugees from Iraq and Syria.

BCF concentrates on five main areas:

Education: Provides school supplies to refugee children, builds and equips schools in the camps, and offers vocational training courses to young displaced people.

Healthcare: building healthcare facilities in the refugee camps and in isolated areas, providing medical supplies to healthcare centers and hospitals, providing free health clinics to economically disadvantaged people, giving disabled and special needs people access to medical equipment (such as wheelchairs) and treatment.

Food Assistance: BCF is the main provider of World Food Program assistance in Kurdistan Region refugee camps. This takes the form of both hot food served fresh and dried or tinned staples.

Camp Management: coordinating with local government to provide the camps’ needs, working effectively with other aid organizations, overseeing camp security, and managing cultural and educational centers within the camps.

Household Supplies: meeting each family’s household needs, such as accommodation, food preparation supplies, clothing, and sanitation.

Children happy to receive their new school supplies

Educational workshop for women

To find out more about the BCF or to support them yourselves, go to their website above or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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