One year ago, west Anbar was liberated from ISIL, clearing a long-awaited path to freedom for the people of Iraq. Today, hope is being restored.


Abraar, 17

Student at Haditha Secondary School for Girls 

“My favourite subject at school is English. I think it will give me a lot of opportunities to explore other cultures, and maybe one day to travel. My dream is to visit Turkey one day. I hear it’s so beautiful.”



Salah, 38

Construction worker repairing Al Khoor bridge, Qaim

“I can’t tell you how much I love this job. I feel proud to be working on this project in my town, and when it finishes, I will feel a great sense of achievement.”



Hadia, 38

Mother-of-ten and former cash-for-work employee, Qaim

“My husband was arrested by ISIL three years ago and I have not seen him since. I accepted the work because I needed the money. It wasn’t too difficult, and the most important thing is that we earned an income. I also enjoyed working with other women.”


Khaled, 37

Iraqi Special Forces soldier patrolling Al Khoor Bridge, Qaim

“Our job is to guard this bridge. Families need it to access critical services like healthcare and education; it’s a vital connector. At the moment they use a small boat to get from one side to the other. But once the bridge has finished, people’s lives will be much easier.”



Bushra, 28

English teacher at Hatheen Primary School for Girls, Haditha. 

“My name means ‘good news.’ When we used to hear bombs going off, I would talk calmly to my students and try to make them feel safe. Now things are back to normal. We have water, electricity and food, and the children are excited to learn.”



Masarra, 11

Student at Hatheen Primary School for Girls, Haditha

“I love learning English — it’s my favourite subject. And when I grow up I’d like to be an engineer.”



Moayad, 64

Father-of-ten and Rawa resident 

“During ISIL we only had water for two hours every three days. Now we have water all the time, and the quality is very good. We cannot live without water. It’s one of the most important things that encourage people to return.”



Ahmed, 19

Miami Heat fan and student at Anah Secondary School for Boys

“This is the best school in Anah. I can’t pick a favourite subject. I love English, history, geography and mathematics. But my happiness is incomplete, because I remember all the destroyed buildings and many of my friends who haven’t returned.”



Khalida, 30

Mother-of-four and former cash-for-work employee, Anah

“My husband was killed by ISIL because he was a police officer. This project was very good for us, we are so grateful, and we hope there will be another opportunity for us to work on a similar project in the future… My dream is for my children to have a different life to mine.”



Qusay, 47

Local Mr-Fix-it and shop owner in Anah Municipality Market

“I’ve been fixing things since I was a child. During ISIL, people still had things to be repaired, so I continued working from home. The most interesting thing I’ve fixed is a sewing machine. But generally, everything is pretty easy.”



Makia, 56

Child minder at Haditha Kindergarten

“I have six children and they all attended this kindergarten. The best thing about my job is coming to work and saying ‘good morning’ to the children. We take care of them more than we do ourselves.”



Athman, 11

Rawa resident and sometimes daredevil 

“This is my favourite slide in the whole park because it goes really fast. It’s so fun coming here after school.”


About UNDP’s work in Iraq

The people mentioned in this story are just twelve out of the 7.3 million Iraqis benefiting from UNDP’s stabilization programme in Iraq, which has been designed to quickly rehabilitate essential infrastructure and services like schools, hospitals, roads, water, and electricity, and provide job for vulnerable people.

Currently, there are more than 3,000 projects in the 31 liberated towns and districts where UNDP works. In Western Anbar — one of the first territories to be taken by ISIL and the last to be liberated — UNDP is rolling out more than 200 stabilization projects, encouraging people to return home, and laying the foundations for long-term recovery.


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