05.06.2014 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

New UNESCO initiative to benefit more than a 1000 refugees

A mother with her two children in a refugees camp in Kurdistan region © UNESCO Iraq 2014

With instability and armed conflict spreading across both Syria and Iraq, more innocent people from both countries are obliged to leave their houses and flee their towns looking for a safe refuge. As those people struggle for the most basic needs in allocated camps, the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) together with international agencies are joining efforts to respond to this alarming crisis.

In this framework, UNESCO and UNHCR, in partnership with the ministry of education in KRG and local NGOs, launched the “Education, Life Skills and Psychosocial Training Support Programme”, a pioneering initiative targeting more than 1,000 vulnerable illiterates and people with disabilities of which at least 70% women, among the population of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“The project aims to ensure access to high quality education opportunities for over a thousand of refugees living in the Kurdistan region through addressing their most urgent literacy, physical and mental health, as well as their educational needs”, stated UNESCO project officer Zainab Al-Khalil.

This new initiative focuses on psychosocial support and parenting skills, while building on the concept of the Community Centres as a learning space – a new concept introduced by UNESCO and that has proven its high efficiency in fighting illiteracy in Iraq. In addition to literacy courses, beneficiaries will receive life skills training to empower them and help them deal with basic facets of their lives.

With over 1 million Iraqis forced to displace due to the current conflict, and 220,000 Syrians entering Iraq since the beginning of the turmoil, UNESCO is among a wide group of international organizations responding to the humanitarian needs of IDPs and refugees in Iraq. As a lead organization in education, UNESCO is prioritizing projects and activities that aim to improve access to secondary and vocational education and training, literacy and life skills in both urban areas and camp settings.

UNESCO is currently broadening its involvement in ten camps through the establishment of additional secondary schools focusing in particular on the training of teachers, the organization of catch up classes for out-of-school children and the launch of ICT and entrepreneurship courses for youth.

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