On 6th February 2023, a massive earthquake hit south of Turkey and northwest of Syria, leaving over 55,000 people killed, more than 135,000 injured, and many more homeless and desperate for help. As the world watched in shock, one organization quickly sprang into action to provide aid and support to the affected people. The Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF), a non-profit humanitarian organization based in the Kurdistan Region, immediately mobilized its resources to respond to the disaster and help its neighbors.
The BCF has a long history of providing humanitarian aid to those in need. Established in 2005, the foundation's mission is to provide assistance to vulnerable groups, such as orphans, widows, and people affected by natural disasters. The BCF has an impressive track record of delivering aid quickly and efficiently, and its response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria was no exception.
Early hours in the morning on the tragic February 6th, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, also the founder and chairman of Board of Trustees of the Kurdish aid organization, ordered government institutions and the BCF to mobilize all their resources and deliver immediate humanitarian assistance to those affected by the quake over the border. The BCF teams, composed of doctors, nurses, engineers and rescuers, joined large convoys of ambulances and trucks carrying goods to Turkey and Syria.
According to the BCF, as of 28th February, the foundation has provided aid to over 203,000 people affected by the earthquake. This included the distribution of 154,000 food packages, 45,000 blankets and mattresses, 7,500 medical packages, 7,000 pieces of clothes, 4,000 tents, 8,500 formula milk, and thousands of hygiene kits. The BCF also set up mobile medical clinics to provide healthcare services to those in need while its rescuers joined the local and international teams to save those trapped under the rubbles for days of non-stop search operations. Additionally, the foundation provided financial assistance to families who lost their homes or livelihoods in the earthquake.
The BCF's response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria highlights the foundation's commitment to humanitarianism and the welfare of people in need. Despite the ongoing military conflicts and political tensions in the region, the BCF did not hesitate to provide aid to its neighbors. In fact, according to BCF President Musa Ahmad, the arrival of the Kurdish rescuers in Turkey and Syria as the first responders was because “the Kurdistan Region did not waste time on calculations so to donate only what exceeds its needs, but it reacted quickly to share what was already needed at home.”
In the face of this tragedy, the BCF's response was a shining example of how individuals and organizations can make a positive difference in times of crisis. The BCF's commitment to providing aid and support to vulnerable groups, regardless of nationality or political affiliation, is a testament to the organization's values and principles.
But that’s not all. A government-led campaign across the Kurdistan Region was well received by people who did not hesitate to donate everything within their means, from their own jackets to food, blankets, and cash. Kurds are known for this sense of hospitality and generosity towards others. It is not uncommon for Kurdish families to open their homes to others and provide them with food, shelter, and warm hospitality. This culture of kindness and hospitality has now extended beyond the Kurdish borders and is evident in the BCF's response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
What made these massive campaigns unique is that they were not influenced by political agendas, but rather driven by a genuine desire to help people in need. This kind of compassion and selflessness is what makes the Kurdish people a truly exceptional nation.
It is also important to note that the Kurds themselves have faced many challenges and struggles throughout their history. They have been subject to discrimination, oppression, and violence, yet they have always maintained a sense of resilience and determination. Despite their own struggles, the Kurds have always been quick to help others in need.
Welcoming the first responders home after weeks of humanitarian work in Turkey, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani pointed out that while the Kurds have received many generous assistances in the past, they were familiar with the sense of bliss a giver feels, but it was felt firsthand this time through the BCF’s campaign.
“There have been many times we were in need, too. Other people opened their doors for us. We knew how blissful their works were. And now that we helped other people, it showed that we will never forget their help at those difficult times.”
The BCF's response to the earthquake in Turkey is a reminder of the importance of humanitarianism and the need for people to come together in times of crisis. The BCF's efforts to provide aid and support to those affected by the earthquake are an inspiration to all of us, and a testament to the resilience and compassion of the Kurdish people. While the world may have misconceptions about the relationship between Turkey and Kurdistan, the BCF's response to the earthquake serves as a reminder that when it comes to helping those in need, political affiliations and national borders are irrelevant.
Sardar Sattar is a translator and journalist based in the Kurdistan Region. He has an MA in English Studies from the University of Lodz, Poland. He has translated several books and political literature into Kurdish and English. He writes regularly for local and international newspapers and journals.