Diverse religious leaders from Kirkuk Governorate support social cohesion in Iraq

August 14, 2022
UNDP In Iraq


Erbil, Iraq, 14 August 2022 – The United Nations Development Programme in Iraq (UNDP) under the auspices of the Council of Ministers Secretariat (COMSEC), the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displaced (MOMD), and the Governor of Kirkuk, has today concluded an interfaith conference for over fifty religious leaders from Kirkuk Governorate.

The two-day conference is the fifth in a series targeting governorates liberated following the defeat of ISIL. Key religious sects from Kirkuk were represented in their diversity, including Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians, Sabean Mandaeism, Kakai, and Baha'i. The religious leaders agreed to support community readiness for reintegration of displaced families and to work together to prevent violent extremism in Kirkuk Governorate, forming a collaborative network.

Conferences for religious leaders across the governorates of Anbar, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din were held in 2021 and 2022, within the UNDP religious leaders programme, supported by Denmark and Germany, ultimately contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16).

UNDP Iraq Resident Representative, Zena Ali-Ahmad, states, “This conference celebrates diversity and encourages a sense of unity across Kirkuk Governorate. UNDP’s partnership with the Iraqi government to enhance social cohesion and prevent violent extremism across these governorates and among key community figures is vital to ensuring a favourable environment for co-existence and sustainable reintegration.” 

According to Dr. Abdul Karim Kazem Ajil, representative of the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, “Today’s conference is to highlight the major role of the clergy in restoring societal peace, spreading tolerance, and rejecting violence in Kirkuk governorate. With the support of their moderate voices, many of the displaced have been able to return.”

Mr. Ali Abbas Jahankir, Director General of the Branches Department, Ministry of Migration and Displaced, emphasizes, “Iraqi society is represented by many different sects, which is why it is necessary for us to meet with religious leaders and scholars and discuss their role  to support stability and address the problems that have occurred as a result of displacement of a large number of families.”

Mr. Ali Hammadi Abed, Technical Assistant to the Governor of Kirkuk, states, “We need to focus on strengthening the social fabric to enhance the spirit of coexistence, especially among the diverse community in the governorate of Kirkuk. We expect that this coordination will encourage societal cohesion.”

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.

Media contact:

Miriam Pineau, Communications Specialist | miriam.pineau@undp.org | +964 790 110 1982