The Sustainable Development Goals in Iraq
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Iraq:
06 September 2021
United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework IRAQ (UNSDCF)
For decades, Iraq has suffered political instability caused by armed conflict, waves of internal displacement, and the resulting socio‐economic crises. The decline in the oil prices, on which the Government2is heavily dependent, the proliferation of armed actors operating outside State control, and the COVID‐19 pandemic exacerbated existing vulnerabilities. The youth popular uprisings, which started in October 2019, called for improved governance system, meaningful political reforms, economic growth, accountable political institutions and job opportunities.
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09 April 2022
Closing ceremony | Thematic Round Tables on Prosecution, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (PRR) Practices, SRSG Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert Keynote Address
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. In the past two months, a series of roundtables between the Government of Iraq and the United Nations were organised to enable us to collectively address the many critical and sensitive questions surrounding the return, rehabilitation, reintegration and, where necessary, the prosecution, of individuals displaced in North-eastern Syria. There is no denying it: this is a uniquely challenging context. And while certain developments deserve our full commendation and support, others are deeply preoccupying - reminding us that time is of the essence. Reminding us that decisive, collective action is urgently needed. Ladies and gentlemen, it is difficult to overstate the complexity of the task at hand for Iraq: in al-Hol Camp, mere hours from the Iraqi border, nearly 30,000 Iraqis with varying degrees of association to ISIL ¬— including victims of ISIL, and others with no association at all— remain in limbo. Their humanitarian and security conditions, already precarious, have deteriorated over the past 18 months. Recent deadly clashes represent only the latest examples of a steady wave of violence in the camp since late 2020. It is also difficult to overstate the youth of this population: 3 out of 5 residents of al-Hol are under 17; one in 5 is under 5 years of age. These innocent children have only ever known this harsh environment; many of them are being denied the most basic rights, including education. Now, over the past 3 years, you’ve heard me repeat that the legacy of yesterday’s fight against ISIL could very easily turn into tomorrow’s war, that we should not wait for young children to become of age in a camp like al-Hol. These children find themselves at risk of forced recruitment and exposure to violent extremism. Fact is, the current situation is not sustainable. And keeping people indefinitely in the restricted and poor conditions of these camps ultimately creates greater protection and security risks than taking them back in a controlled manner. In other words: a continued status quo is - without a doubt - the riskiest option. Iraq’s decision to resume voluntary returns in early 2021 is therefore particularly welcome. In fact, in terms of proactively taking steps to fulfil its obligations to repatriate its nationals, Iraq has set an example on the global stage. Some 450 families, or nearly 1,800 individuals, have been repatriated since May 2021. And as thousands of Iraqis are still out there, the Iraqi authorities do realize that they cannot stop there. The United Nations is particularly appreciative of Iraq’s intention to not only continue but also to accelerate repatriations. And yes, we are ready to continue providing the required post-return humanitarian, protection and reintegration assistance. And we truly hope that Member States and donors are with us on this. Definitely worth mentioning here is the fact that this initial success is the product of robust whole-of-government coordination and cooperation. Prime Minister al-Kadhimi and National Security Advisor al-Araji have been highly instrumental in ensuring that a wide array of ministries and institutions deliver concerted efforts towards a shared goal. And of course, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement also deserves recognition for its role in managing the Jeddah 1 Centre: the ministry manages the centre, with UN agencies and their national and international partners supporting with healthcare, including mental health and psychosocial support, child protection, legal assistance, education, food security, and livelihood services. In other words: it is not only a whole of government, but also a whole of UN effort, including IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, and UNFPA, and our many partners Ladies and gentlemen, Engaging directly with returnees, our agencies have observed first-hand their relief at having left behind the hellish conditions of al-Hol in returning to Iraq. However, these returnees continue to be greatly concerned about the safety of their relatives who remain at al-Hol: continued efforts to prevent family separations are critical and appreciated, despite the enormously challenging operational conditions in northeast Syria. Returnees in Jeddah 1 are also anxious about their own futures, eager to move on to their areas of origin or relocate elsewhere in Iraq. Nearly 130 families or 500 individuals have now departed Jeddah 1 to their areas of origin or a third location. Crucially, a Visitor’s Centre has been established to enable residents of Jeddah 1 to meet with their relatives on a regular basis. While this is most welcome, going forward, it will be important to establish benchmarks and reduce the transit time as much as possible. Admittedly, significant challenges remain even after families depart Jeddah 1: in some cases, community members in areas of origin have refused to accept returnees; in other cases, families have been forced to relocate due to damaged or destroyed housing, lack of services, or lack of access to livelihoods. Hence, closer cooperation between the government and the UN will prove essential to ensure that reintegration needs, including community acceptance, are assessed prior to departure from Jeddah 1. The incremental approach - followed thus far - has allowed the Government of Iraq and the UN to identify challenges and solutions, improving the process over time. But as we move forward, and returnee profiles become more complex, new and thorny challenges will undoubtedly arise. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why it is so important to continue and expand our dialogue with the government on advancing a rights-based approach that of course provides accountability for individuals who have committed crimes but also ensures holistic reintegration support. Building on these recent discussions and round tables, expanded UN support to the Government of Iraq will be guided by the Global Framework for the provision of “whole of UN” support to the return of third country nationals from Iraq / Syria. For those not familiar with this Global Framework: it lays out a collaborative approach with governments and pooled funding mechanisms under which the UN can support Member States on the protection, repatriation, prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration of returnees from Syria, who may have alleged or actual links or family ties to designated terrorist groups. Using this Global Framework, the UN and the Government of Iraq, building on years of partnership in addressing the many post-ISIL challenges, can jointly identify gaps and needs, and prioritize areas of multilateral support, leveraging specific mandates within the UN family. And importantly, having played an exemplary leadership role in many respects so far, the Government of Iraq can greatly contribute to the global understanding of contemporary prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration questions. Ladies and gentlemen, in closing: Transnational challenges call for transnational solutions, and the United Nations looks forward to our continued partnership with the Government of Iraq in shaping and implementing these solutions for the greater global good. Let’s face it: al-Hol is a ticking time bomb. If it goes off, it will impact not only the region but also far beyond. Defusing it should be our collective priority. Thank you.
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01 February 2022
UN SRSG visits Ur: It is high time that Iraq taps into its rich cultural history
Many sites of great cultural significance enrich the country’s history and present. Ur in southern Iraq is one of those landmarks. “Walking on grounds that thousands of years ago were at the centre of the world brings awe and admiration. This is a place one must see”, UN SRSG Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said on a recent mission to southern Iraq during which she visited Ur. Iraq’s rich past is as significant as its oil wealth today. The right expertise and development efforts can attract many visitors, creating local jobs and generating income to help Iraq’s economy break away from a complete reliance on hydrocarbon revenues. “Iraq has tremendous untapped potential as a place of interest for visitors and travelers. Local and national authorities as well as the Iraqi public are encouraged to take pride in discovering this wealth”, said Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert.
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25 January 2022
Weaving for a new Iraq: Durable solutions for women’s livelihood in Kirkuk
The Director of the Carpet Factory briefed about the latest innovative partnership with UN-Women entitled: Women’s Leadership, Empowerment, Access and Protection (LEAP II). This project is implemented by the Women Leadership Institute with generous funding provided by the Government of Japan. The traditional art of carpet-weaving is recognized as an intangible cultural heritage. Hand-woven carpets are more expensive, but of higher quality than mass-produced ones. Director Muhanad demonstrated this by showing the visiting delegation a hand-woven rug and that looked fabulous, and then revealed…that it was over 100 years old! By comparison, a machine-woven rug already showed signs of wear and tear after just 2 years of use. UN-Women is supporting the Kirkuk Carpet Factory through its innovative LEAP II project modality. This allows 20 young apprentices to learn the ancient art of carpet weaving from master-weavers. The project involves skills-transfer, heritage preservation, vocational training and livelihoods generation. The apprentices were selected from among the rich tapestry of different ethnic communities, IDPs and people with disabilities in Kirkuk. Ms. Hanim, one of the most talented apprentice-weavers is deaf. Yet this is not a handicap at all! Ms. Hanim weaves beautiful, complex 300-knot creations without losing her laser-sharp focus on the design. The Director noted that he received over 200 applications and competition for the 20 available slots was fierce. Interestingly, despite the high pay and good working conditions, no men applied for the apprenticeship programme. The preservation of cultural heritage mixed with marketing and design could form the basis of an excellent livelihood project for the returnee community. Kirkuk would like to see more of these kinds of innovative vocation-apprenticeship programmes for women in Kirkuk, particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field. Director Muhaned explained that until the 1990s, Iraq produced the most beautiful, hand-woven carpets that were much prized by foreign dignitaries and businessmen. Even Turkish traders bought carpets in Iraq at the time. Unfortunately, decades of sanctions and civil war have decimated the Iraqi carpet trade. From the 7 officially licensed state companies, only the ones in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Babylon are still left. Currently, the State Company for Hand-Woven Carpets falls under the Ministry for Industry and Minerals, which is not very interested in promoting and marketing Mesopotamian carpets as an international brand. It was suggested that perhaps hand-made carpet workshops might be better regulated under the Ministry of Culture, so that the link with the UNESCO intangible heritage can be made. That way, Iraqi carpets can be marketed as cultural artifacts, both at home and abroad. A suggestion that could help in this regard would be for the Kirkuk Carpet Factory to expand their production with an internet-based app that could allow customers (from all over the world) to upload a picture or design that they wish to turn into a carpet, hand-made and ready-to-order within 15 days. Regrettably, no tourist agencies or freight shipping companies operate in Kirkuk yet to make these kinds of entrepreneurial initiatives possible, and many beautiful hand-woven carpets go unsold. By: Martijn Dalhuijsen, UNAMI Photos: Harith Al-Obaidi, UNAMI
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02 January 2022
Strengthening IDP-owned Businesses and Upscaling a Workforce through Entrepreneurial Training
Thanks to the generous support of the Japanese Government, UNIDO has organized Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) trainings at the Shariya and Kabarto IDP Camps, aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and upscaling a workforce. The ten-day, 65-hour entrepreneurship training programme collaborates with 43 existing micro businesses located within the Camps and strives to make these businesses more sustainable and resilient, especially in light of the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The training, which includes sessions such as marketing, management and budgeting, is designed to help the IDPs leverage their past career experiences, improve upon existing management skills and acquire new knowledge in order to sustain and improve their micro businesses. Participants and collaborating entrepreneurs receive asset support in the form of equipment, tools and supplies to strengthen their enterprises towards success. Khalaf Murad Ilyas, originally from a village near Sinjar town, Nineveh Governorate, participated in the programme as a means of expanding the barber business he has established in the Camp. Back home in his village, Khalaf was involved in his family’s small barbershop and worked alongside his father and uncle. Having only finished primary school, Khalaf says that, prior to the programme, he had not been exposed to skills like developing a business plan, and setting goals for business expansion. “I learned how to manage my time and how to formulate a vision for the future, “Khalaf says of his experiences in the programme. “I plan to develop my business to have a good income to improve the situation of my family.” Nada Yusif Kalo, another programme participant, operates a small sewing shop in Kabarto IDP Camp. A divorcee with 4 children to support, Nada has been displaced since 2014. Nada worked as a seamstress at a clothing factory in Mosul for five years, before deciding to go into business for herself. Nada opened a small workshop at her home in Mosul after making an agreement with the factory who had employed her—taking in outsourced work from the factory, in addition to growing her own customer base. Using credits and loans, Nada had made significant investments in her home-based business until Mosul fell into the hands of ISIS, forcing her with her family to flee and losing all her equipment to looting. After being in the camp, she had to start work again to secure income for her children. She opened a small shop with simple equipment. The skill and experience she had could secure her some income. “There are many skills that I lacked and did not have any idea on those I learned from the training such as, managing your business, advertising and promoting of your products, and also how to calculate profit and loss. These are crucial to the development of one’s business,” Nada says. Nada says that her business felt the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, as fewer social gatherings equated to less need for new clothing. Despite this, she is beginning to see her business return, thanks to vaccines and bettering mitigation efforts. Thanks to the support of UNIDO, she intends to expand her business, and serve as a training vehicle for other women in need of skills training to gain independence and escape poverty. “If you do not think of others you cannot think of yourself,” Nada says.
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29 June 2022
28 June 2022
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