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Eager To Assist: Kurds Welcome People Fleeing ISIS



From the highest point in Duhok – northern Iraq’s and Kurdistan’s largest city – I am viewing the city of Mosul just 40 miles to the south. Mosul fell to ISIS 21 months ago, and the status of Mosul citizens is illustrated by the vast tent cities which lie between Mosul and Duhok. Tens of thousand reside in these camps: Iraqi Kurds fleeing the conflict in Mosul, Syrians fleeing the conflict in their homeland, and Iraqi minorities – including Orthodox, Catholics, and the ethnic Yazidi photographed here.


What quality of response are these individuals and families receiving in Duhok from Iraqi Kurds? In a word: heartwarming. My personal interaction here with Kurdish officials, pastors, and healthcare professionals confirms a united spirit of compassion and action on behalf of refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). Housing, food, clothing, schools, language training, healthcare, assist with locating relatives, and even legal aid for asylum seekers is provided in Kurdistan. Why is the attitude of the Kurds so very different from that of individuals in other regions, including many in the United States?


A glimpse of Kurdish history reveals an important clue: they are a people who themselves have repeatedly been suppressed and persecuted. I discern that as a result of their own sufferings the Kurds as a people have become more compassionate toward those seeking their assist. Herein could lie what lesson for the rest of us?

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