Stichting Help Kobanê strives to strengthen the society of Northern Syria through supporting initiatives focused on health and education in order to create a just and sustainable society for the future.
Stichting Help Kobanê serves as the initial point of contact for all other NGOs or foundations in the Netherlands who wish to conduct projects in Northern Syria.
Stichting Help Kobanê was founded in May 2015 in the Netherlands by a group of volunteers dedicated to supporting the people of North Syria in light of the destruction caused by the ongoing conflict in the region. We are focused on supporting women and children through initiatives that bolster healthcare and education – two areas often overlooked in times of conflict. We operate as the official Dutch branch of the Kobanê Reconstruction Board, an organization based in Northern Syria and focused on the reconstruction of the cities and infrastructure of the region.
Stichting Help Kobanê also serves as the initial point of contact for all other NGOs or foundations in the Netherlands who wish to conduct projects in Northern Syria.
We firmly believe a just society has at its foundation the pursuit of human rights for all people, regardless of gender, religion, age, ethnicity, or nationality. We aim to build this foundation through supporting projects that will assist the people of Northern Syria in sustainably rebuilding their lives and their cities rather than relying on foreign aid as a long-term solution.
While we are based in the Netherlands, we have an international team with members from the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Syria, Turkey, and more. We welcome members of all nationalities and backgrounds, and we encourage open dialogue and transparency to ensure that we are always working towards the best possible future for all involved.
The city of Kobanê is located in the northern Syrian region – often referred to as Rojava – that declared local autonomy and self-administration in 2012. The encompassing Kobanê Canton came under attack by the so-called Islamic State in 2013, but in September 2014, IS launched an intensive campaign to capture the city. As IS forces advanced on Kobanê city, most people unable to fight fled across the border to Turkey.
The People’s Protection Units of the YPG and YPJ, along with other volunteers, remained to defend the city despite being outnumbered and outgunned. The siege of the Kobanê proved to be a vicious contest. The nature of the fighting – street-to-street, house-to-house – took a toll on the city and its defenders. Kobanê quickly became a symbol of resistance and was eventually given air support by the US-led coalition. Kobanê, at great human cost, was liberated in January 2015.
Most of those who fled the fighting have since returned. The city was in ruins. Areas left standing were booby trapped and mined by retreating IS fighters. The necessary coalition bombing left widespread destruction, leveling entire neighborhoods. There is a real humanitarian catastrophe throughout Kobanê Canton. Estimates of the scale of the damage put the cost at around €3.3 billion. Despite the enormous financial and human cost of the defense of Kobanê – and it’s important role in helping to stem to the advances of the Islamic State – there has been a lack of outside help in reconstruction. The people of Kobanê have been hard at work, using what little resources they have available, to make the city livable again.
About the Kobanê Reconstruction Board
Progress in the reconstruction of Kobanê has remained slow. There has been a significant lack of international aid to repair the extensive damage to infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, the US, whose bombs caused the majority of destruction in Kobanê, has not provided any support for the reconstruction. The revival of Kobanê is dependent on local, regional, and international solidarity and action. The Kobanê Reconstruction Board was established to facilitate and coordinate these efforts.
Founded by the Democratic Self-Administration shortly after the liberation of the city of Kobanê, the Reconstruction Board studies the situation on the ground and makes plans for the future development of the Canton. The Board also coordinates the rebuilding efforts of local, regional, and international partners willing to support in any way they can, be it through funding, material assistance, or knowledge. International solidarity and assistance is of the utmost importance to bring the region back to life.
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