With the emergence of a more stable security picture in Iraq, many internally displaced people (IDPs) have had the confidence to return to their homelands and begin rebuilding their lives. Sadly, many IDPs return only to see their homes, businesses, workplaces and schools at best dilapidated and at worst in ruins. Consequently, the thrust of GOAL’s work here concerns itself with stimulating economic and community activity at local level through our livelihood programming.
Based in Dohuk, the Kurdish region of Iraq forms the kernel of GOAL’s operation in-country. Adjoined by the Syrian conflict, the region has undergone a number of acute shocks over the past number of years, including a decline in oil prices, an economic recession, and waves of displacement generated by conflict on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
In March this year, with the support of UNDP, GOAL concluded a project which provided IDPs, refugees and host communities in Misureek, Dohuk with a holistic range of activities to develop livelihood opportunities, encourage community development and improve social cohesion.
Consistent with our approach to programming generally, GOAL sought to engage and empower the community to drive the project forward. Two members of the host community in Misureek: Aveen Ibrahim Ismail and Hassan Yassin Hassan, were engaged by GOAL as volunteers to support the project.
Commenting on the initiative, Aveen said “In each activity we tried to engage IDPs, refugees and host community members together. The most effective activity in my opinion was the showcasing of women’s art, which allowed women to be involved in a big event for the first time, but was also a great opportunity for bringing people of different cultures within the community together to learn about each other’s food, habits and culture. Thank you to GOAL for supporting us in organizing this”.
Hassan said “For the first time in Misureek women were engaged in an activity of this kind (referring to the young women’s volleyball match). It was definitely a great start for the people living in this community to appreciate and accept the role of women and that they are able to partake in such activities. It was honestly surprising to learn that 105 young women were registering for this match, which showed us that they want change and that all they need is support”.
When GOAL has worked in regions of prior conflict before, one of the most powerful mechanisms we have witnessed in the rebuilding of communities is the engagement of youth. Our experience is that youth tends to be less bound by the animosities of conflicts past, and more questioning of divergent cultural and social practices. GOAL is realising the potential of harnessing the hopeful power of youth as a vibrant conduit for the political, social and economic regeneration of a country. We hope to build on the relative progress of events such as the Misureek initiative, and post many more stories of how Iraqi youth is leading the way to a more peaceful, tolerant and prosperous nation.