by Higerta Gjergji

The Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor in Kurdistan) is an international organisation providing humanitarian aid to Kurdistan. The organisation is present in the Kurdistan Region and provides medical care and basic necessities to those affected by the war. They also fund the reconstruction of public buildings such as schools, hospitals and clinics.

Kurdistan is an area of the Middle East divided between Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, with a population of around 35 million. The aim that drives the association is to provide assistance without discrimination in its national and international capacity and to alleviate human suffering in Kurdistan and wherever it is, with priority given to

  1. War zones and war affected areas
  2. Disaster areas
  3. Areas of poverty in all countries and regions.

The principles proclaimed by the association are:

  • The right to health
  • Free and quality medical care
  • Right to free assistance without discrimination
  • To provide care and assistance to the needy, displaced and orphaned children, regardless of ethnicity, political or religious affiliation
  • Right to self-determination of peoples
  • Protection of dignity
  • Respect the dignity of pain and suffering, choosing a more objective and non-pietistic communication
  • Responding to emergencies and protecting the population on a daily basis has been its main focus since 1993

The staff in the field are local, which allows them to overcome language barriers and connect with the population.

They work with families through the Siblings Project, which helps families in need by providing basic health care, psychological support and education; with children, many of whom have been orphaned by war and natural disasters – providing psychological support, education and a place to stay; They respond to health needs by offering medicines and medical care, they operate in emergency response by providing ambulances; they work in reconstruction after bombing by helping local authorities; they deal with emergencies due to environmental insecurity and armed conflict, intervening in wars, natural disasters, epidemics, earthquakes, providing immediate medical care to the injured. Among the works is the construction of refugee camps, such as Washokani.  The Kurdish Red Crescent has called for support from international health organisations to improve health services in the Washokani camp, which hosts people displaced by the Turkish invasion of northern Syria.

The attacks have displaced more than 300,000 people from the border areas. The report of the Office for Humanitarian Affairs in Northeastern Syria confirmed that these attacks, carried out with all kinds of weapons, including chemical weapons, killed more than 478 civilians and injured another 1,070.

The displaced people live in shelters in the town of Heseke and the Washokani camp. The camp, located about 12 kilometres from Heseke, now hosts more than 12,000 people (1,862 families) who fled from Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ain) and Zirgan (Abu Rassan) after the Turkish invasion began on 9 October 2019.

With the establishment of the camp on 1 November 2019, the Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor) is committed to providing health care by opening a medical centre with a number of departments and specialities. The camp is supported only by the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria.

The head of the Kurdish Red Crescent in the Washokani camp, Jihan Amer, said there was a lack of medical equipment and professional health staff. Amer called on international agencies to help improve health services on the ground. During the COVID pandemics, the Kurdish Red Crescent was taking several measures for the Washokani camp to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to Jihan Amer, who is also administrator of the Kurdish Red Crescent in the WashoKani camp, these included sterilising all the camp facilities and the main roads. The work of the association is not without its challenges. On 31 May 2024, several areas in northern and eastern Syria were attacked by Turkish state aircraft. In response, Kurdish Red Crescent ambulance teams stepped in to transport and treat the injured and victims of these attacks.

While one medical team was carrying out their duties and trying to reach the wounded, they were targeted by Turkish planes, putting the ambulance out of action completely. This is not the first time that the Turkish state has targeted ambulances working in the humanitarian field and carrying the symbols of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The Kurdish Crescent calls on “partner and international organisations to oppose these attacks by the Turkish state, which openly targets humanitarian and service workers in Northern Syria”.

On the cover photo, Red First Aid Box Icon in English and Arabic ©Kagan Kaya/