NEW YORK, Jan. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over 2.5 million refugees, fleeing the ISIS onslaught and seeking refuge in Kurdistan (in northern Iraq), with little more than the clothes on their backs, now face the challenge of surviving the plummeting temperatures of this mountainous region. A dozen children dying from the cold have been reported by authorities over the past few weeks - and in total over 300 newborns have died in the arms of their mothers during recent months.
The needs are overwhelming Kurdish resources – for clothing, medicine, foodstuffs, baby formula/diapers, women's personal products, cooking/heating gear-- all essential for survival.
Now a U.S.-based campaign, Coats 4 Kurdistan (C4K), has been launched to bring non-governmental aid from the USA to help the refugees. (www.Coats4Kurdistan.com; Email: [email protected]) The C4K campaign was started by CHANGE FOR HOPE, a recently formed charitable organization based in Kansas City, MO and New York, NY.
Hallie Neill, a spokesperson for the C4K campaign, stated: "The Kurds, who are largely Muslim, have lived in peace for centuries with Christians and Jews. They are appalled by the hatred of the radical jihadists and are the only truly viable group helping to protect the ISIS-persecuted minorities. When we learned that the 2.5 million refugees — Arabs, Yezidis and nearly 500,000 Christians, including the Chaldeans who are among the oldest Christian groups— were all facing death, some indeed by crucifixion, we recognized that we needed to do something to help those who have left everything behind and do it as quickly as we could."
The first phase of C4K sought to motivate Americans to donate and send new and "gently used" outwear to CHANGE FOR HOPE facilities. C4K's initial goal has been to deliver one million warm coats to the Kurdistan refugees. Ms. Neill stated: "We are grateful for the overwhelming support from individual Americans and churches that have sent thousands of both new and lightly used coats to our facilities in Kansas. But we have recognized that we must now accelerate things. The only practical way to help at least one million refugees is to request two things: 1) urgent financial support from individuals, churches and synagogues, as well as foundations; and 2) large scale product contributions of most needed items from manufacturers and retailers."
C4K's new approach will enable the campaign to move more quickly to maximize in-country impact. Ms. Neill stated: "By finding sources of supply for coats and supplies geographically closer to the point of need, we can do more and spend less on actual shipping costs."
The in-country partner working with C4K is the Barzani Charity Foundation based in the capital, Erbil. BCF was formed in Kurdistan in 2005 and named after Mustafa Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Liberation Movement and father of the country. Guided by principles that Barzani himself espoused, BCF operates on the basis of tolerance, liberty, anti-discrimination and inclusive charity. BCF is a forerunner in delivering humanitarian assistance to Christian Iraqi families, Syrian refugees and other displaced people affected by the terrorist attacks.
Director of Operations for BCF, Awat Mustafa, stated: "Kurdish people used to say that the Kurds have no friends but the mountains… But this is no longer the case as now we do have friends in America. We are fighting on behalf of the civilized world. Without you, victory against Islamic terrorists is not possible."
[NOTE: KURDISH LEADERS FROM BARZANI CHARITY FOUNDATION TO BE IN USA - JANUARY 26 TO FEBRUARY 8 - TO REPORT ON THE GROWING CRISIS]
To accelerate the impact of the campaign, C4K is forming a coalition of strategic partnerships, starting with CITIHOPE International for logistical support and distribution in-field. (CITIHOPE, www.citihope.org, for 25 years has brought over $1 Billion in humanitarian aid to nearly forty countries. It is rated as among the top 12% of all US charities for its efficiency and accurate documentation by independent rating group Charity Navigator.)
In partnering with C4K as operational ally, CITIHOPE's Chief Operating Officer Paul Moore, Jr. stated: "We were deeply moved by the plight of the refugees in Kurdistan and for months we looked for a way to help. When C4K approached us, we accepted the call wholeheartedly to be a strategic partner in this coalition of concern. We are committed to provide our resources, in-the-field experience and network of relationships to support this historic rescue effort."
Coats 4 Kurdistan (C4K) came about when a disparate group of Americans from half a dozen states recognized that bringing help to areas of extreme need -- like the refugee situation in Kurdistan -- was something they could not, as human beings, ignore. Founders of non-sectarian CHANGE FOR HOPE include a former military man, an opera singer, a retired bounty hunter, a veteran of many years with an international Christian ministry, a serial entrepreneur, a fitness/nutritional coach, an attorney and a NYC-based business strategist to major companies.
Richard Morgan, Vice President of CHANGE FOR HOPE and retired from the US military stated: "We could not stand aside but determined to do everything we could to bring US attention and help to Kurdistan." Mr. Morgan -- having spent military time in Kurdistan -- stressed: "It was only a matter of hours that the entire lives of these refugees dramatically changed. These were not what one might term 'third world impoverished' people. Most were living in modern homes with TV's and had cell phones, just like us. With the instruments of modern terror, this kind of crisis could happen to anyone, anywhere, reaching into the heart of a major metropolis. And when tragedy strikes, people need to come together: that's true in families and it should be true in the family of man – with people of good will."
Mr. Tucciarone summed up the C4K initiative: "Coats4Kurdistan is a virtual network of compassion in the face of a potential tragedy of historic proportion — an incipient tragedy that could happen if people of goodwill do not come together. Just as in the movie Gladiator, victory against overwhelming odds was only secured when Maximus cried out 'As One' to his ragtag group of gladiators and they locked shields together...and that saved the day."
Coats 4 Kurdistan (www.Coats4Kurdistan.com) is a humanitarian campaign started by CHANGE FOR HOPE, a recently formed organization with charitable mission currently awaiting IRS-granted 501C3 status. CITIHOPE INTERNATIONAL, (www.Citihope.org), a 501C3, non-profit humanitarian aid organization is serving as co-partner with CHANGE FOR HOPE in the C4K campaign and will provide proper tax-receipting for any financial or Gift-in-Kind contributions.
SOURCE CHANGE FOR HOPE / Coats4Kurdistan