By John Lee.
Oil companies operating in the Kurdistan Region have so far donated $15 million dollars towards humanitarian aid for refugees from the war in Syria, through an initiative launched by the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources.
Thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled to the Kurdistan Region have received help through the donations.
The oil production and services companies have provided funds to humanitarian NGOs, to ensure the best and most efficient use of their donations. In addition to the oil companies’ donations, the Ministry of Natural Resources itself spent $10 million dollars on assistance to the Syrian refugees in 2013, as shown on page 30 of the 2013 financial report.
The ministry’s Kurdistan Oil and Gas Humanitarian Initiative (KOGHI) has been backed by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) since its launch in September 2013. Mr Emmanuel Gignac, the UNHCR Coordinator for the Kurdistan Region, said,
“We greatly appreciate the initiative of the Ministry of Natural Resources to team up with the oil sector in the Kurdistan region to support the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. This assistance is crucial, especially in light of the fact that these people have been forced to flee their homes and their country. Many of them have lost almost everything and cross into Iraq with little or no belongings. Therefore this initiative by the Ministry together with the oil sector will go a long way towards ensuring that these Syrian refugees are provided with much needed help. We hope very much similar initiatives can be repeated in the future as the Syrian crisis is unfortunately expected to continue and Syrian refugees will keep on arriving.”
The donors include Total, Chevron, Western Zagros Gulf Keystone, Hess, Genel Energy, Kar Group, Taqa, Marathon, and Oil Search. Services companies have also contributed, such as Ensign Energy Services and OAGSG.
Anglo-Turkish company Genel Energy donated to the international charity Save the Children. Kieran King of Save the Children Iraq said, “Syrian children’s futures are threatened as they are deprived of an education and fall behind their peers. The partnership with Genel Energy and their generous donation of will enable Save the Children to better support refugee children, providing shelter and safe areas in which they can play, learn and begin to recover from the trauma they have experienced fleeing their homes.”
With a donation from Chevron, Save the Children provided winter clothing for over 8,000 children, created safe child friendly spaces, and it will build four playgrounds in three camps in Erbil.
Hess Corporation provided funds to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to fund five initiatives that were critically important to extremely vulnerable refugees particularly women, the elderly, children, and youth. The donation also helped the IRC to build and equip the first secondary school inside Domiz camp. Total joined efforts with the French Red Cross to carry out essential emergency sanitation work in Domiz, the largest refugee camp.
Gulf Keystone Petroleum pledged to donate funds based on each barrel produced from 1 September 2013 for a period of one year, to assist the KRG in the humanitarian relief effort.
KOGHI was launched in September 2013 by Natural Resources Minister Dr Ashti Hawrami, at a meeting with the oil and gas companies. Minister Hawrami has set a goal of raising $50 million dollars from the oil industry. In addition to the funds already committed by the KRG, the government will match “dollar for dollar” any contributions from the oil sector. There are close to 215,000 registered Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region.
Western Zagros targeted the most vulnerable with its donation to Mercy Corps, which selected 39 families with many children and female-headed households to receive packages of winter essentials and health products.
Not only production and exploration companies but also oil services firms have put their efforts behind KOGHI. With a donation from Ensign International Energy Services, the Norwegian Refugee Council provided winter clothing and items to 1,000 women in the camps. Oil and Gas Management Services Group has helped the charity Rise Foundation to carry out its work by providing its staff with accommodation, the use of a van, and administrative support.
(Source: Kurdish Regional Government)