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The Refugee Crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan

  • By Alice Seeley

  • Published On June 22, 2020

Church set on fire by ISIS


Since 2011, over 2 million refugees have fled their homes and have found refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Now, 28 percent –almost one third– of Iraqi Kurdistan’s overall population is made up of refugees.

Kurdistan is a region in Northern Iraq.  Unlike many other places where refugees flee, Kurdistan is landlocked and cannot be reached by boat.  And despite its lack of official nation status, Kurdistan has provided housing, food, and other essential services to the many refugees seeking help there.

The Kurds themselves are no strangers to persecution.  In fact, they are one of the most persecuted minorities of our time. Since World War I, the Kurdish people have been victims of constant attacks by the Turkish government.

According to reports, between 1925 and 1939, 1.5 million Kurds were deported or killed. On March 16, 1988, Iraqi warplanes attacked the Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq with mustard gas and sarin. 5,000 people-  mainly women and children – died within minutes of the attack. Another 7,000 to 10,000 suffered long-term health problems due to this attack.

Most of today’s refugees in Kurdistan have fled from Syria and other parts of Iraq due to the rise of ISIS.  Nearly 4 million Iraqis fled their homes starting in 2014 because of the terror group, becoming IDPs.


The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East has been working diligently with IDPs in and around Iraqi Kurdistan.  American FRRME seeks to assist wherever people have been persecuted for their beliefs within this region of the Middle East on the ground, providing food, clothing, shelter, education, and even assistance with entrepreneurial enterprises through our Nineveh SEED projects.

FRRME America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East.

To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit NETWORK FOR GOOD.

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