Press release

UNESCO, IOM and the European Union Partner to Boost Livelihoods Opportunities with Focus on Iraq’s Cultural Heritage

Baghdad — Iraq’s economy continues to face many challenges, created by the conflict against ISIL, COVID-19 and other factors. These challenges have made it more difficult for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access financial services and for SMEs to hire new workers. This is especially true in the case of traditional and cultural industries, as demand for non-essential goods declines in a post-conflict economy, and expenditures on essential goods rise.


With a grant from the European Union, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have launched a new partnership that will support employment opportunities that directly contribute to the restoration of Iraq’s cultural heritage. Targeted activities in the old cities of Mosul and Basra will reach SMEs that have the capacity to create or support jobs and are scalable in the long-term. The project will support Internally Displaced Persons, returnees and members of the host communities.


The partnership will focus on urban reconstruction, and the promotion of culture-related goods and traditional industries, primarily through IOM Iraq’s innovative financing mechanism — the Enterprise Development Fund (EDF). The EDF aims to restore essential economic infrastructure by providing financial capital to SMEs in primary and secondary economic sectors with high demand for labour to re-start or expand their operations. By targeting key sectors and providing necessary funding, the EDF encourages rapid restoration and/or creation of job opportunities needed for the recovery of local economies.

The EDF programme was developed by IOM in 2018 as an innovative livelihoods approach to contribute to economic recovery and private sector revitalization in Iraq. The programme typically provides tailored support to SMEs in primary and secondary economic sectors with high demand for labour force and, thus, great potential for labour-intensive expansion. More than 120 SMEs will be directly supported through EDF grants, with a view to creating and retaining 850 jobs as a direct result of EDF grant support provided through this programme.

The project, “Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities” will build on the ongoing activities implemented by UNESCO in Mosul and Basra, to respond to the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and boost local economies. The overall objectives of the project are to contribute to economic recovery and social cohesion through the creation of decent jobs; reconstruct historical urban centres; and support SMEs.

For more information please contact:

UNESCO, Husamaldeen El-Zubi, Public Information Officer, Tel: +964 780 927 0324, Email:

IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel: +964 751 402 2811, Email: