The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has announced Yazidi activist Mirza Dinnayi, co-founder and director of Luftbrücke Irak (Air Bridge Iraq), as the 2019 recipient of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.
A former consultant to Iraqi Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani, who served as president of Iraq from 2006 to 2014, Dinnayi has dedicated his life to saving the lives of people caught up in the Iraq war, evacuating women and children from territories controlled by ISIS, and providing those who have been tortured and violated with rehabilitation and support services. Founded in 2008 in Osnabrueck, Germany, Air Bridge Iraq flies injured children to German hospitals, covers the costs of their operations with donated funds, and arranges for them to stay with host families while they recover. One of the people Dinnayi helped evacuate to Germany is Lamya Haji Bashar, who in 2016 escaped sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS members, was severely injured in a landmine explosion, and today is a renowned human rights activist with an Aurora Initiative scholarship named for her.
Presented on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian genocide, the Aurora Prize comes with a $1 million cash grant that can be shared with an organization or organizations of the recipient's choice. Dinnayi will donate the funds to Air Bridge Iraq and two other organizations, the SEED Foundation and the Shai Fund, that provide medical care and rehabilitation to victims of ISIS terror.
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative also awarded grants of $50,000 each to two other 2019 Aurora Humanitarians — Yemeni lawyer and activist Huda Al-Sarari and Zannah Bukar Mustapha, director and founder of Future Prowess Islamic Foundation, a school in Borno state, Nigeria.
"What makes Mirza Dinnayi an outstanding human being is the fact he couldn't live in good conscience knowing that good people are left behind, that the innocent are suffering," said Tom Catena, 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate and chair of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. "Trying to help others while facing an unspeakable evil can be challenging and frustrating, but he never wavered. I am delighted to congratulate Mirza Dinnayi with being awarded with the prize and welcome him to the Aurora family."