Beginnings and Official Establishment
The Assyrian Christians of Iraq had lacked effective, officially recognised charitable and humanitarian organisations. This was primarily due to the policies of oppression and persecution against Assyrian Christians by all the regimes that have governed Iraq. In the aftermath of the Gulf War of 1991, thousands of families left their homes, towns and villages and fled to the borders of Turkey and Iran, searching for refuge from the terrors of Saddam Hussein's regime. In these areas the displaced refugees remained in the open, under trees in the ravines and the mountains, exposed to the harsh weather conditions and without adequate shelter, food and water. This resulted in many deaths, particularly amongst the very young and elderly.
The Assyrian Christians were in dire need of urgent help and the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM or “Zowaa”) responded to this humanitarian disaster in many ways, including the creation of the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq (AAS-I). The primary objective was to seek aid from the Assyrians in Diaspora for distribution to our desperate people indiscriminately. With the imposition of the no-fly zone, conditions in northern Iraq began to stabilise and refugees were keen to return to their homes. However, by this time many of their towns and villages were looted, ruined and in desperate need of reconstruction. Unfortunately the most basic essentials were missing because of the policies of Saddam Hussein's regime on one hand, and the effects of the international sanctions on the other. This presented AAS-I with a greater challenge to provide housing and other necessary humanitarian aid for the Assyrian Christians.
The Assyrian Aid Society - Iraq (AAS-I) was formally and officially established in the spring of 1991. AAS-I was one of the very first humanitarian organisations in the region able to help co-ordinate the efforts of the United Nations agencies who were just beginning their own humanitarian work in Iraq. AAS-I also cooperated with other international and local organisations. The humanitarian program of AAS-I quickly expanded to include the distribution of food and medicine, plus sending mobile clinics to the most remote villages in northern Iraq.
Aside from short-term emergency aid, AAS-I wanted to provide Assyrians with appropriate living, educational and economic conditions, sustainable for the long term. Hence, the AAS-I developed and implemented various strategies to meet these requirements. Village rehabilitation programs included providing agricultural tools and utilities that would generate income and independence, thus helping to maintain an Assyrian population in the homeland. To accomplish one of its principal goals the AAS-I dedicated itself to teaching children the Assyrian language (Syriac or neo-Aramaic). This plan required action at every level of the teaching process; specifically, the printing and provision of academic books in the Assyrian language, providing transportation for students, funding the salaries of the lecturers and teachers, raising money for the building and maintenance of schools and dormitories, and much, much more.
Read more: http://www.assyrianaid.co.uk/About_Us.htm
registered charity number 1113953