In order to fully grasp the importance of rebuilding Iraq, one must understand the history of the previous dictatorship and the devastating effects it had on the Iraqi people. For many, it was hell on earth. War, terror, gassings, destruction, and alienation are just a few words which describe the harsh reality for the Kurdish population of Iraq over the last several decades. If one were to travel through the region of Northern Iraq today, the brutal effect that Saddam Hussein’s regime and radical policies have had on this people group would be clearly evident.
As early as 1960, a gruesome war between the Kurds and Iraqi forces began and continued for nearly a decade, only to be momentarily paused by a faulty peace accord. During this time, Saddam started his steady rise to power. By 1975, Iran signed the Algiers Accord with Iraq, consequently breaking all ties between the Kurdish people and Iranian government. With their weakened position, Saddam and the Iraqi government were free to retaliate against the Kurds.
By 1979, Saddam was elected President of Iraq. Attacks were made on the Kurds, forcing over 200,000 to flee to the mountains or enter into detainee camps. A large majority of villages were demolished. Others who were able to remain in their towns were subject to chemical gassings while they slept at night. Although the exact number remains unknown, it has been estimated that close to 500,000 Kurdish people were slaughtered during Saddam’s reign.
Due to this major oppression the Kurds experienced, multitudes rebelled against Saddam’s armies again in 1991. The Iraqi government fought back, scattering hundreds of thousands of people far away from their homes. These events ultimately lead to the intervention of the U.N. Security Council, and eventually the infiltration and capture of Saddam by U.S. troops in 2003.
However, the devastation still remains for many families. Only time will tell how long it will take to rebuild Iraq and assist the Kurdish people with reconstructing the places they once called home. Thankfully, our non-profit, Extended Family International (EFI), is making strides to aid Iraq in constructing new homes and offering hope for families. Founder, Bruce Burchfield, witnessed this while working in the Kurdish region of Iraq and having the privileged opportunity to interact with the people of this region. Many have good paying jobs and the drive to rebuild their lives, but are still lacking the means to accomplish this.
Due to enforced restrictions, most people are unable to take out interest bearing loans. So this is the overall vision for EFI; to provide no interest microloans that families pay back over time and then eventually recycle into the form of a new loan for other families. There are many ways for you to become involved with EFI’s charitable work in the reconstruction of Iraq. Please discover more about our organization and mission by clicking the links above.