Championing community acceptance for returning families in Muhalabiya, Ninewa

July 27, 2022

Photo: July 6, 2022 Town Hall Meeting.

"We encourage all families who have not yet returned to do so, even if one of their members has joined ISIL. Women, children and the elderly should not pay the price for the acts committed by one of their sons."

-Manal Al-Haidari, Lecturer, Muhalabiya District.

Photo: Manal Al-Haidari. 2022.

Over 400 community members have attended Town Hall-style meetings held in four locations of Anbar, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din as part of UNDP’s Community-based Reconciliation and Reintegration in Iraq project. The project, supported by the Government of Japan, encourages the reintegration of 4,000 families in four areas of Anbar, Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates with a fulsome package of livelihood support, housing rehabilitation, and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for previously displaced returnees and community members. Many of the families supported to reintegrate are perceived to be affiliated with ISIL, due to a family member’s association with the terrorist organization.

Photo: July 6, 2022 Town Hall Meeting.

The most recent Town Hall meeting was held on 06 July 2022, in Muhalabiya, bringing together over 140 area youth and women leaders, Local Peace Committee members, local authorities, Community-Based Organizations, and international organizations. The Town Hall meetings are being rolled out in partnership with local authorities and local peace mechanisms supported by UNDP to reduce stigma surrounding returning families, discuss important topics related to Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE), and provide a transparent platform for the local community to raise concerns and discuss any related issues.

Photo: Amjad Yassin. 2022.

“We have agreed that displaced citizens should not be left alone, and we are working to fully support reintegration in Ninewa.”

-Amjad Yassin, member of the Mosul Local Peace Committee.

Photo: Jassim Bakr. 2022.

“We welcome the families who were displaced from their areas in Muhalabiya due to war and terrorism by ISIL, and we call on all these families to return to their areas in order to reintegrate them into their communities. "

-Lieutenant Jassim Bakr, Director of the Muhalabiya Security Office.

While reintegration processes have been smooth to date in Muhalabiya, Ninewa, with many displaced returning through local peace agreements brokered by the Local Peace Committees supported by UNDP, residents from rural villages expressed concern with lack of infrastructure and long commute times for children to reach schools. UNDP’s integrated approach to the reintegration process ensures all voices are heard to tailor development projects for lasting and meaningful community impact.

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