Nemam Ghafouri 1968-2021

We are deeply saddened to announce that JHK’s founder, our dear friend Dr Nemam Ghafouri, passed away yesterday from complications due to coronavirus. She died peacefully in the company of her family.

“I guess I have been lucky to be born into a house of love in the middle of wars and bombs,” Nemam wrote recently after visiting the cave near Koye where she was born, a refugee from Saddam Hussein’s army. As she was born, so she lived, defying dictators, bringing love amid war and bombs.

Nemam devoted her life to humanitarianism in the deepest and richest sense of the word.

She showed no fear, whether she was touring ISIS camps in disguise to rescue prisoners, bringing aid to the frontlines from Kobane to Sinjar to Afrin, or upbraiding generals and government ministers who didn’t meet her standards. She had no respect for high titles, for bureaucratic procedures, and least of all for the taboos and bigotry of sectarianism. She saved her care, joy and energy for the people she dedicated her life to helping: the children at Bajed Kandala camp who flocked at the sight of her car to come play, dance and sing with ‘doktora’; the displaced families she visited on hundreds of trips from village to village and tent to tent, not just as a doctor or aid worker but trusted friend; the young Yazidi mothers whom she fought against all odds to reunite with their children.

Nemam never treated vulnerable people as helpless victims but as equals, as individuals with each their own lives and dreams who needed a strong friend in their corner. First of all she would always ask, “how do you want me to help?” She helped thousands, and they will not forget her.

We offer our sincerest condolences to the many of you reading this who we know will feel the loss keenly and personally. In the coming weeks we will let you know more about plans for continuing Nemam’s legacy and JHK’s work for displaced and oppressed people. For now our thoughts are with her family.


JHK Board