Together towards peace: Town Hall meeting promotes reconciliation and community acceptance in Habbaniyah
April 11, 2022
Following prolonged conflict in Iraq, encouraging the safe and dignified return of Iraqis to their home communities is a priority to achieve social cohesion. UNDP Iraq’s Community-based Reconciliation and Reintegration Project, funded by the Government of Japan, is currently underway to encourage reintegration of 4,000 families in four areas of Anbar, Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates with a comprehensive package of livelihood support, housing rehabilitation, and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for previously displaced returnees and community members.
As part of this project, a series of Town Hall meetings is being rolled out, the first of which was held on 31 March in Habbaniyah, Anbar. The purpose of these meetings is to raise awareness among the community and encourage reconciliation and acceptance among returning internally displaced families and the community of return.
Over 120 people attended the Habbaniyah Town Hall meeting, representing a wide spectrum of people including women, youth, local Community-Based Organizations, religious leaders, and local authorities. Every participant was encouraged to speak up to discuss their thoughts on community readiness in Habbaniyah.
In his opening address, Mayor of Habbaniyah Ali Daoud Selman, stated:
“We, as a local government in Habbaniyah, are constantly striving to encourage families to return to the area and to reintegrate into the community.”
Sheikh Saad, member of the Habbaniyah Local Peace Committee, began his speech with a verse from the Qur’an:
“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.”
He went on to ask, “Why is it the fault of a woman, mother, or child that a member of their family was affiliated with ISIL and deviated from the right path?”
-Sheikh Saad, Habbaniyah Local Peace Committee Member.
Community member Moyaed Ibrahim says:
“We all strive for a society free of extremism and full of peaceful coexistence and reintegration. Most of the displaced are women and children, and if children remain displaced and marginalized in camps, they may grow up with the ideas of extremism and terrorism.”
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.