Karen Dabrowska

KAF Mission Report

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Kurdistan Aid Foundation Humanitarian Mission to Iraqi Kurdistan

23rd – 29th March 2015


To deliver six doctors’ medical packs obtained through International Health Partners to IDP’s in co-ordination with the Rise Foundation.

To evaluate possibilities for future KAF humanitarian assistance projects.

To set up a KAF office in Arbil.


Dr Shafiq Harris (Chairman)

Daphne Harris

Karen Dabrowska

Patrick Dean

KAF volunteers in Arbil

Dr Bassam Harris, Managing Director of Karash Laboratories – KAF co-ordinator in Arbil

Dr Harris has kindly agreed to make an office in his business premises available for KAF use.

Dr Runge Shawis, director Kurdistan Children’s Hospital in Arbil – trustee

Umed Ashty – trustee

23rd March

Arrival at Erbil International Airport with six doctors’ medical packs from International Health Partners.

One 12-14kg box contains medicines for 1,000 treatments. The customs officials refused to release the boxes as they insisted on a certificate of origin, certificate of analysis and a list of the drugs. Each pack contains 60-70 drugs not one or two drugs for which these certificates would be appropriate. KRG had a letter form IHP stating that the drugs conformed to European Standards.

Meeting with Tom Robinson and Lucy Petheran of the Rise Foundation.

Mr Robinson briefed the delegation on the situation in two sites where the refugees have settled: the mosque site and an abandoned chicken farm.


Houses 13,000 IDP’s. The KRG’s department of health has a representative in the camp.

A co-ordination meeting was held with the Rise Foundation. There is a lack of medicine in the camp and some of the medicines are defective.


Six thousand refugees have chosen to remain on Sinjar Mountain with their sheep and goats.

The Rise Foundation will be carrying out a needs assessment on April 1st 2015. A mobile clinic is assisting the refugees.


IHP stresses it is essential that the medicine in the doctors packs reach the refugees and are not sold on the local market.


On March 24th Patrick Dean and Karen Dabrowska will accompany Tom Robinson and Lucy Petteram to Debaga region where a census of camp residents will be made. Dr Shafiq and Daphne Harris will try and get the medicines released by customs.

24th March

Karen Dabrowska and Patrick Dean visited Debaga village and surrounding areas with Tom Robinson, Lucy Petheram and other members of the Rise Foundation.

There are 750 families in 11 sites in the Debaga area (30km from Arbil) 50 Kurdish families from Karach are living with families in Debaga. Many of the refugees are from Arab villages in the KRG region and some are from Mosul. There are concerns that some of the refugees could be ISIL supporters and they are not allowed to leave the area for Arbil. There is also some anti-Arab sentiment from the local Kurdish inhabitants of Debaga. The refugees started arriving in January 2015 from villages near the front line where the peshmergas are fighting ISIL. The children do not go to school. They are Arab speaking and the medium of instruction in local schools is Kurdish.

There are plans to establish a camp on the mosque site. The governor has made some land available but he is running out of land for tents. A lot more refugees are expected at the sites which are visited by local doctors. There are many disabled children and some children with facial deformities. A local clinic is essential.

Meeting with the governor of Debaga Kak Tola who drew attention to the problem with rubbish disposal. The UAE may assist with the construction of a refugee camp.

Meeting with the manager of the Makhoor Medical Centre in Debaga, Kak Abdul Qalak. The hospital has run out of medicine and there is an urgent need for female hygiene packs. The doctor’s packs from KAF were welcomed. Kak Qalak will provide a receipt for the medicine received.

Mosque site

205 families (approx. 1,000 people) housed in tents supplied by the IMO are living next to the Pir Hedr mosque.

The only washing facilities are five showers in the bathroom of the mosque building. The water is stored in tanks on the roof of the mosque. The intermittent electricity supply makes it difficult to use the water pump. Water is delivered to the site but runs out before the end of each day. The refugees are assisted by the Barzani Foundation and the Emirates Red Crescent. UNICEF does not have a budget to assist these refugees.

Abandoned chicken farm

47 families, 270 people. The refugees are living in sheds. There is one shower, one toilet and one large fresh water tank. The water runs out and as summer approaches and temperatures rise there will be water shortages. Ground water is not clean and the wells cannot be dug. Some of the refugees brought money with them and are able to buy food (fresh fruit and vegetables) which are brought to the site daily. Aid items are sometimes sold and the money is used to buy flour and sanitary items. The children do not go to school.


The Rise Foundation conducted a census of the people in the mosque and chicken farm sites Special needs and disabilities were noted. On March 26th the Rise Foundation will return to the sites with 50kg flour bags and female hygiene packs. KAF hoped to supply the six doctors medical packs to the Makhoor Medical Centre.

The Rise Foundation supplies hygiene kits to refugees. Each kit consists of soap, a tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, dish washing liquid, razors, baby wipes and tissues. KAF will consider a fund raising campaign, similar to its campaign for blankets, to purchase the hygiene kits which cost $18. The Rise Foundation distributes one kit per family each month.

25th March

Dr Shafiq Harris, Daphne Harris, Karen Dabrowska and Patrick Dean met the Minister of Health Rekawt Hama Rashid Karim to try and secure the release of the medical packs from the airport.

The minister said the medicines could only be released to the KAF delegation if the health ministry was provided with a certificate of origin and a certificate of analysis. Dr Harris explained that the six packs contain 70 different medicines and International Health Partners do not provide these certificates for each medicine. He gave the minister a letter from IHP stating that the medicines conform to European standards. The minister insisted on a certificate of origin and analysis for each medicine and said that he was obliged to follow the rules for the entry of medicine. He also referred to a case where 20 patients were blinded by Avastin (a drug for the treatment for colon cancer) which was contaminated.


The minister agreed to release the doctors packs to Dr Ismat Nizarchi head of health services in Dohuk where they can be used to help refugees in Mamaylan Refugee camp in Akre. The delegation agreed to this. Dr Harris considered using the influence of his contacts to obtain the release of the medicines but this was decided against as the KAF wants to work within the legal framework to ensure access for future shipments of medical packs from IHP.

26th March

Visit to Kurdistan Children’s Hospital in Arbil run by Dr Runge Shawis, a KAF trustee.

Visit to Mamaylan camp for IDP’s near Akre in Dohuk governorate.

There are 13 IDP camps in Dohuk and a further two are under construction.

Syrian refugees are housed in 3 camps.

All the camps need medicine.

There are over half a million IDP’s and refugees in Dohuk and 1.8 million in Iraqi Kurdistan.

UNHCR is trying to arrange resettlement of the Syrian refugees in Europe, the USA and Australia.

Mamaylan camp is home to 12,700 people (2315 families) – Yazidis, Shebakas and Sunni Kurds from villages near Mosul. It was built in October 2014 with funds from the KRG and the central government in Baghdad.


Two play areas

The camp operates a voucher programme. WFP provides each resident with 30,000 ID (five dollars) a month for food vouchers.


Some IDP’s have opened shops.

By NGO’s

Work around the camp – electricity supply etc.

Teachers (some of the IDP’s were teachers and will work in the school being constructed by UNICEF.)

Around 70 refugees are employed in the local recycling plant.


Although the IDP’s are permitted to work in Akre it is very difficult for them to find jobs.

The most common health problem is skin allergies as there are no washing facilities for clothes and blankets.


Health centre – patients are treated in mobile clinics between 8am – 1pm daily.


School (a school being built by UNICEF will open in ten days)


The six medical packs from International Health Partners which the KAF delegation brought from London will be released from the airport by the Ministry of Health to Dr Ismat Nizarchi head of health services in Dohuk and used to help refugees in Mamaylan IDP camp. To-date KAF has not received confirmation that the medical packs have been delivered and emails have been sent to Dr Shawis and the Health Minister requesting them to use their good offices to ensure the medicine reaches the refugees.


To continue supplying medical packs from International Health Partners to IDP camps and sites.

This will be contingent on the establishment of a procedure with the Ministry of Health to ensure problems regarding documentation and the release of the packs from the airport do not arise again.

It was agreed at the KAF’s previous steering committee meeting to identify an IDP camp/site on which KAF could focus its assistance.

The abandoned chicken farm could be considered. Hygiene packs, medical boxes and other forms of assistance could be provided in conjunction with the Rise Foundation.

Bassam Harris paid for $195 worth of KAF tee shirts and caps with the KAF logo.

Dr Shaif Harris paid £100 for KAF shirts and bumper stickers.