This year we're celebrating Operation Mercy's 30th birthday!
Do you know how Operation Mercy started?
Operation Mercy’s work began 1991 in the aftermath of the Gulf War when thousands of Iraqi Kurds were fleeing Saddam Hussein’s forces and were stuck in the mountains between Iraq and Turkey. The situation was desperate. The rocky terrain made it difficult to dig latrines as well as graves. The cold and rainy weather left thousands of Kurds vulnerable, hungry, and in unsanitary conditions. Many were dying from exposure, especially the very young and very old.
Mr. Bertil Engqvist of Örebro, Sweden was one of the many private persons who volunteered to help in the relief efforts on the Turkish/Iraqi border. He, together with other friends, helped arrange for truckloads of blankets and supplies to be shipped from Europe to the Kurdish people. More volunteers arrived to help with shelter, sanitation, and food distribution.
Lenna Lidstone says: “When we heard of the Kurdish crisis we were living in Turkey and the news came out in the newspaper, words spoken by the Kurds themselves and they said: ‘Iraq doesn’t love us, Turkey doesn’t love us, God doesn’t love us,’ and we knew in our hearts that that wasn’t true.”
In this context Operation Mercy was born.