Interview: Helping the People of Iraq

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Readers of Iraq Business News will already know Baroness (Emma) Nicholson of Winterbourne (pictured) as the UK’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, and as Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

We met with her recently to discuss the work of her charity, the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, which is facing new challenges as a result of the Islamic State’s aggression in Iraq and Syria.

POH: Can you explain to our readers a little about the AMAR Foundation?

EN: The purpose of AMAR is summed up in our strapline – “rebuilding lives”. We concentrate mainly on healthcare and education in the Middle East, and our particular focus is Iraq.

For example, AMAR ensures that more than 213,000 people in Iraq can be seen by a qualified doctor. We delivered more than 52,000 vaccinations last year, our Women Health Volunteers made nearly 300,000 home visits, and more than 20,000 students attended our classes on human rights and the rule of law.

POH: How has the security crisis in Northern Iraq affected your operations?

EN: The number of refugees fleeing from the Islamic State has presented us with a huge challenge. Now, in addition to rebuilding lives, we first have to save lives. Many of these people have nothing, and as winter sets in their need for the basics such as food and shelter will become even more acute.

POH: What can our readers do to help the people of Iraq?

EN: It’s important to remember that everyone can make a difference; not just national governments, but also large and small businesses, families, and individuals. One-off donations to our Iraq Appeal are always welcome, but it is also encouraging to see more people making regular contributions.

POH: Many charities are appealing for funds at the moment; what sets AMAR apart from all the others?

EN: When you contribute to AMAR, more of your money goes to the people who need it. We are very efficient and we keep our overheads low, with 87 percent of donations being spent directly on projects – much better than many larger and better-known charities, despite the economies of scale that one might expect from them.

This means that every pound, dollar, euro and dinar that we get goes further and makes more of a difference to people’s lives.

POH: Thank you Baroness, and may we wish you every success with your projects.

EN: Thank you for your support.

Any help you could give to AMAR’s Iraq Appeal, no matter how small, would be hugely appreciated. Thank you for your kind support.

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