Following our visit to Kurdistan where we met refugees from the battle for Kobane and Yazidi refugees from Iraq, representatives of Kurdish organisations and municipal councils, trade unions and women’s groups, we testify that a humanitarian crisis exists. Almost 200,000 refugees have arrived in the region in the past two months fleeing from, as one Yazidi put it, “the monsters” of ISIS.

Stephen Smellie Kurdistan, Unison, Unite,
A demonstration in solidarity with Kobane in Leeds, England, on 1 November

A demonstration in solidarity with Kobane in Leeds, England, on 1 November

Following our visit to Kurdistan where we met refugees from the battle for Kobane and Yazidi refugees from Iraq, representatives of Kurdish organisations and municipal councils, trade unions and women’s groups, we testify that a humanitarian crisis exists. Almost 200,000 refugees have arrived in the region in the past two months fleeing from, as one Yazidi put it, “the monsters” of ISIS.
The local people, unions and political representatives have responded magnificently whilst the Turkish government response has been slow and woefully inadequate. With winter approaching and temperatures as low as minus 10, there is a real prospect of people currently living in tents freezing to death.

Local health services have been overwhelmed by this wave of human misery. The Turkish health service is not available to these people except in emergencies and even then they, as foreign nationals and people with mostly no resources, will be asked to pay for treatment.
We salute the hundreds of local people, doctors and health workers who have volunteered to provide support but they have little resources, medical equipment or medicines with which to support the refugees.

The battle for Kobane continues, as we witnessed with our own eyes. The people are confident that they can win this battle. However it is clear that they need help to do this.

They need supplies of food, medicine and equipment to help them defend and rebuild their city.
Therefore we ask all people in the UK to:

  • Send money for the relief of the refugees. In particular to buy suitable habitation that will protect them throughout the winter.
    Send medical equipment and medicines to aid the health programme needing to be delivered to the refugees now and over the coming months.
  • Call on the UK government to lobby the Turkish government to allow the creation of a humanitarian corridor to allow aid and resources to reach those who are defending Kobane.

The delegation consisted of:

Stephen Smellie and Helen Steel (members of UNISON), Ruth Walter and Paul Toner (members of Unite) and Zaher Aarif (member of Haringey Solidarity Group). All in a personal capacity. The delegation was organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign (UK) and the DTK (Democratic Society Congress) in Kurdistan and HDP (People’s Democratic Party).

For more information contact:

Stephen Smellie, UNISON South Lanarkshire and Trade Union Liaison Officer of Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Peace in Kurdistan: Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Conor Murphy MP, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall


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Stephen Smellie

Stephen Smellie is Secretary of UNISON South Lanarkshire

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