Kurdistan has been divided between Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Russia. With a distinct language and culture, they form the largest nationality in the world that does not have its own homeland. The northern, oil-rich part of Iraq has the largest concentration of Kurds.

A large crowd of Kurds living in Birmingham – men, women and children – gathered in Victoria Square today. This followed a demonstration in London yesterday (below).

kurdish demo london yesterday

Professor Malcolm Dick records that Kurdish refugees in Handsworth include individuals forcibly deported from their homes in Iraq, survivors of the Halabja chemical bombing and those who experienced imprisonment and torture.

The Birmingham speakers called for aid for more than 500,000 men, women and children who have fled Mosul and other cities in the north-west in recent days.These families are exposed to searing heat, often without anything to eat or drink. And the region to which they are heading is already hosting refugees who have escaped from the civil war in Syria and settled in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Corinne Fatah, who worked for over ten years at the Refugee Council, helping successive waves of Kurdish asylum seekers and visits the region frequently, said:

“Don’t miss the boat: aid is urgently required. Speed is essential, work with the Kurdish regional government as the central government is still in turmoil”.

kurdish flagKurds left the country in fear in 1976 after violent oppression by the Shah of Iran (the US’ client).In the 80s others fled, fearing reprisals after uprisings in response to destruction of villages, the killing of thousands of Kurds living in rural areas and attacks using chemical weapons. Many more left after 1991 during Saddam Hussein’s regime and in 2003, following attacks by the US-led coalition during the 2nd Gulf War.

When will news of humanitarian provision hit the headlines which currently focus on military aid?