Staying safe in Iraq

On this year’s international Youth Day, see how UNDP is working with the Government of Iraq to create #SafeSpaces4Youth

A young man sits in class at the Al Warkaa Secondary School for Boys in East Mosul, which was rehabilitated by UNDP.

Providing #SafeSpaces4Youth to attend school is both a crucial investment in Iraq’s future, but it is also a major immediate contribution to the well-being of communities. At the end of July, UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) had 898 projects in the education sector in five Iraqi governorates supporting the rehabilitation of primary schools up to prestigious higher education institutions like Mosul University.

A young woman studies her English textbook at home with her brothers and sisters

During the battle against ISIL, their family home in Bartela was totally burnt and all the family’s possessions were ruined or stolen. Following their return to Bartela, the family’s home was rehabilitated with the support of FFS

For many IDPs in Iraq, returning home has meant returning to houses which have suffered significant damage under ISIL occupation. Through 45 projects which include more than 27,000 individual housing units in Anbar and Ninewa, UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization is creating #SafeSpaces4Youth and their families through rehabilitating houses; paving the way for houses to again become homes.

Three young women relax at the Al Hadba women’s dormitory at Mosul University and prepare traditional Iraqi meal, dolma, for Iftar during Ramadan

Women in Iraq suffered greatly under ISIL occupation, often unable to work or go to school. Through FFS, UNDP has prioritized supporting young women to go back to their studies through the rehabilitation of women’s educational facilities and women’s dorms.

With the rehabilitation of the Al Hadba women’s dormitory, which was once used by ISIL to manufacture elaborate bombs, now complete, UNDP has supported Mosul University to create #SafeSpaces4Youth, particularly for young women. The dormitory is a space for 1,000 women from all over Iraq to live, study and rebuild their dreams for the future.

Engineers Sara Mahmood (left) and Wejdan Ahmed stand for a photo at the Qubbe roundabout in East Mosul, which is being rehabilitated with the support of FFS.

I love working with UNDP because I love being around people and helping rebuild my city after ISIL,” says Sara. For FFS, #SafeSpaces4Youth also means more safe and secure futures for Iraq’s young people. In an effort to contribute to rehabilitating and restoring the rights of women, and their place in Iraqi society, the FFS aims to hire female Iraqi staff, like Sara and Wejdan, in many different roles; as engineers, workers and supervisors for cash for work projects and social organizers in housing projects, when and where possible.

A worker works to rehabilitate the Waleed Park in the town of Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul.

Through FFS, UNDP is rehabilitating dozens of public areas. Parks, in their role as public spaces, foster social cohesion and inclusivity in communities, with their ability to encourage people to gather and interact.

Green, clean and safe public spaces are important for the broader community but particularly for youth, for whom safe, clean and usable public spaces are vital both for social uses and as thoroughfares. For the Funding Facility for Stabilization, rehabilitating public spaces, and paving the way for #SafeSpaces4Youth in public areas, remains an ongoing priority.

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