The last international flight left Iraqi Kurdistan tonight, as authorities in Baghdad imposed an air embargo over the region, in response to Monday’s independence referendum. The embargo affects our staff in the area, making travel in and out of Kurdistan far more difficult. It has the potential to disrupt our work with refugee families here. It’s also affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people in an already fragile economy.
Almost every night, Ghazwan Ahmad’s relatives in Baghdad get in touch. Are the Kurds attacking you? they ask. How are they treating the Arabs up there?
Every time he hears such questions, Ahmad, 30, says he gets a little shock.
On Monday, people in the Kurdistan region of Iraq voted in an independence referendum, and the results are in: it’s a “yes” for independence.
What does a “yes” vote actually mean? What will change and how will Iraqi Kurdistan’s neighbors respond? All of that is still unclear to many. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation—not to mention concerns over the actual voting process. And the fact that very few global news outlets are covering the referendum doesn’t help.
Sami had driven past his former shop a couple times, but he hadn’t stopped to really look at what was left of his business.
The truth is, there wasn’t much to look at. The only thing we could find was a single broken kettle. It survived thousands of cups of tea served to Sami’s customers, but it didn't survive ISIS.
Peace is not for someone else to make. It’s for you to make. With whatever tools and skills you have available to you.
I was chatting with a friend a while back and he told me how he desperately wanted to do something to make the world a better place, but didn’t feel like there was anything he could do.
In just a few days, people in the Kurdistan region of Iraq will vote on whether they want to become their own country, separate from Iraq. While a “yes” vote will not mean immediate independence, it could have far-reaching consequences. Iraqi officials are calling for the referendum to be suspended, and tensions are already growing in the region.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is by the sweater-changing, puppet-serenading Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
As the war with ISIS enters a new stage here in Iraq, there’s an invisible group of helpers that I want you to meet...
It was his nightly routine for years. After supper was eaten and the dishes washed, after the evening visitors had come to enjoy tea and conversation, after the children were tucked into bed and his wife began yawning, Sami moved through his home to make sure it was secure for the night. He checked the front gate to make sure it was bolted closed. He did the same at the front door, and then made sure the windows were secure.
Imagine your child saying ‘I’m thirsty,’ and having nothing to give them.
That’s the situation of many families in Mosul today. But it doesn’t have to be. You can provide a source of clean water for an entire neighborhood in as little as three days.