Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, 02 June 2021 – The United Nations Development Programme in Iraq (UNDP) in partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displaced (MOMD), the Governorate of Ninewa, and supported by the Government of Denmark, concluded an interfaith religious conference held in Erbil today.

The two-day conference gathered around 100 religious leaders to elaborate on how best to advance reconciliation, coexistence and combating violent extremism, as well as encourage the return and reintegration of displaced families in Ninewa Governorate. Participants had the opportunity to discuss critical topics like the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and preventing violent extremism within communities in Ninewa, and raise important issues directly with the Minister of Migration and Displaced, Her Excellency Mrs. Ivan Faiek Jabru and the Governor of Ninewa, His Excellency Mr. Najim Aljabouri.

Key recommendations include the need for religious leaders to work together to support the Ministry of Migration and Displaced build trust between religious groups to help prevent crises from impacting civil peace; and that leaders are encouraged to support religious speech that promotes moderation and mediation, resenting hate speech, and respect for other religions or beliefs.

The conference follows intensive training undertaken by UNDP Iraq of 87 religious leaders from different backgrounds to enhance their role in community coexistence and social cohesion. A co-existence network was established to foster dialogue, with sub-network hubs for religious leaders in Anbar, Baghdad, Erbil and Ninewa governorates. The trained leaders engaged over 150 community members from different religious backgrounds in training sessions to enhance their skills and knowledge regarding social cohesion, forgiveness, family violence, and COVID-19 public health messages. Work undertaken with interfaith religious leaders contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16).

UNDP Iraq Resident Representative Zena Ali-Ahmad emphasizes, “We are very pleased with our partnership with the MOMD and local government to encourage the return and reintegration of many displaced vulnerable Iraqis to their communities. Through our work to bring religious leaders from different faiths together, we aim to encourage solidarity in spreading messages of peace and supporting returns. We are thankful to the Government of Denmark for their continued support to this important Social Cohesion agenda in Iraq.”  

The Minister of Migration and Displaced, Her Excellency Mrs. Ivan Faiek Jabru, states, “We need to support community peace and return the displaced, and it is our duty as Iraqis to support peaceful coexistence by rehabilitating displaced families as well as spreading the concept of community peace among all segments of society.”

In 2020, UNDP Iraq launched a dedicated five-year Social Cohesion Programme to promote stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.

 

For additional information, please contact:

Miriam Pineau, Media & Advocacy Project Specialist | +964 790 110 1982

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