For decades, the Kurdish people have been the targets of unacceptable human rights abuse and atrocities. This includes the Anfal Kurdish genocide which took place during Saddam Hussein’s reign. Using tactics, like chemical warfare, imprisonment, torture and intimidation, Saddam Hussein sought to wipe out the Kurdish people for good.
The Yazidis have also experienced severe physical and psychological trauma while fleeing ISIS atrocities in recent years. Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, Kurdish, and Arab victims of ISIS have all found safe sanctuary in Kurdistan. In 2017, the Iraq-Iran border was hit with an earthquake causing more than 500 deaths and leaving many civilians homeless. Kurdistan was in crisis. Kurdish children experienced trauma without any access to the proper psychological care. There was a total lack of therapeutic programs for children, not even simple toys or games for them to play to ease their suffering and bring healing. Additionally, people with disabilities went untreated during this time. The poor economic situation limited our access to wheelchairs, crutches and other medical equipment.
When nobody else was assisting us in our time of need a loyal friend, Ken Isaacs, arrived to help us. Ken and his incredible humanitarian team from Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief NGO, quickly assessed the situation, identified those in need, and gave them the care they needed. Isaacs and his team served everyone regardless of nationality or religious affiliation. Since 2008, Ken Isaacs and Samaritan’s Purse has continuously helped and supported both the people in Kurdistan and Iraq.
Ken’s teams have provided food, shelter, nutrition, water and sanitation, psycho-social support, camp management services and constructed and operated a badly needed emergency field hospital during the campaign to liberate Mosul from ISIS. His continuous support for IDPs and refugees by providing and shipping supplies, will always be remembered. It is also worth mentioning that Ken Isaacs himself spent time visiting refugee families inside the refugee camps. He also visited the Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, to help give insight on how to best serve the people in this region without any national or religious discrimination. This man will be remembered as a friend to all Kurdish people and to all the other people groups he served in our region.
It is for these reasons I offer Ken Isaacs my full support in his campaign to become the next Director General of the International Organization for Migration, IOM. Ken will make an excellent Director General.
Migration is the major issue facing the world today. IOM, the UN’s Migration Agency, is the only international body capable of addressing the unique migration challenges faced by all countries and all peoples. Ken Isaacs is the right leader at the right moment to lead IOM forward into the future and bring innovative solutions to these many complex challenges, while preserving and uplifting the human rights of all individuals involved. I look forward to congratulating Ken Isaacs on June 29th when he is elected the next Director General of IOM.
*Mariwan Naqshbandi is the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq