On 2nd and 3rd May 2015, we made our first humanitarian aid delivery to Rojava, a predominantly Kurdish area of Syria. Thanks to funding by the charitable wing of the Waldensian Table, this was launched in our first two months of activity in this area.
We returned to Rojava. During our first visit we had promised our support in their quest for a peaceful future. We promised our friends to help defend them against the barbaric behaviour of Daesh.
We crossed the only part of the Syria/Iraq border which is not controlled by Daesh, a section of the River Tigris under the control of Iraqi Kurdish authorities, to make our first delivery of medicine to Rojava, generously financed by the charitable wing of the Waldensian Table.
These medicines had been specifically requested by the Rojava Kurdish Red Crescent (KRC), for distribution in the coming weeks to hospitals in Derik, Al Malikiah and Qamishlo, and Newroz refugee camp. This medicine, which is needed to treat tumours and cannot be found in the area, will be used to treat 6,000 people in the Cizire Canton.
Our humanitarian convoy travelled to the new Kurdish Red Crescent Centre, where health workers provide free healthcare and medicine for the population of Derik. The centre houses the dispensary and a paediatrics ward for women and children, as well as an operating theatre.
The doctors working in the centre are mostly volunteers and travel with a mobile unit to reach the remotest areas of the canton and those most at risk of Daesh attacks. These doctors risk their lives every day to do their job and ensure this vital service to people who are trapped between the threat of Daesh and the embargo imposed by Turkey.
This small but important contribution will help Rojava face the many challenges to the democratic principals which underpin its autonomy.
During our mission, we once again met the Mayor of Derik/Al Malikiah: a 27-year-old woman engineer, who was elected as an independent candidate on the basis of her experience in infrastructure development. As we see it, her election was a the welcome confirmation that participatory democracy here can really be effective, despite the on-going war.
Kurdish Red Crescent doctors accompanied us to the refugee camps. We had already seen Newroz camp: it currently shelters more than 5,000 refugees, but last summer more than 100,000 people arrived, and the few volunteer doctors were faced with a real humanitarian crisis with thousands of patients in need of help every day.
Meanwhile a new camp camp was set up for around 50 Iraqi families from the Zummar Province. There were tents and nothing else - no sanitation or facilities for children, and no sign of any international humanitarian organisations.
We discovered the “Women’s shelter”, a vital institution for any pluralist democracy project. When we arrived, we saw women of all ages, both Kurdish and Arabic, discussing how to provide concrete assistance to vulnerable women. The centre can sit as a civil party in court cases for cases of gender-based violence. The activists told us about their ceaseless efforts, going door-to-door to inform every women in the Canton of their rights, in an attempt to involve them in social and political life.
The next step is to introduce more concrete solidarity initiatives in Rojava. We will soon be delivering more medicine in collaboration with the Italian Foreign Ministry.
And we will also be organising training courses on handling trauma, as requested by our Kurdish Red Crescent colleagues.
Project name: Humanitarian aid distribution
Project type: Humanitarian crisis
Beneficiaries: Syrian IDPs in northeast Syria
Length: May 2015
Project area: Northeast Syria
Local partner: Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor a Kurd)