In October 2015 we launched a new peacebuilding action plan in Iraq with the support of UNDP. The project, known as “Nineveh Paths to Social Cohesion, Coexistence and Peace” aimed at communities who for thousands of years had been living in the Nineveh Plain before the arrival of Daesh, as it swept towards Mosul in the summer of 2014.
The vast planes of Nineveh have always been known for the cultural diversity of its communities: for millennia, Christians, Yezidi, Turkmans, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Shabakis have settled in this area together with the Muslim population, and everyone was forced to flee because of the violent conflict.
This action plan is designed for these communities and Iraqi IDPs, with the goal of building together a peaceful future, founded on coexistence and social cohesion with a view to when it will be possible to return after liberation of the Nineveh Plain.
The first step towards a potential return is the resolution of reciprocal revenge attacks, creation of faith-based militias, acts of violence and discrimination which would further aggravate the tension. Without a concerted effort for social reconstruction, Iraq will always be divided by internal conflict and sectarian violence.
That is why we established the “Nineveh Paths” with the communities of the Nineveh Plain and the organisations of Iraqi Social Society, involving 5 religious communities, 4 mayors, the Provincial Council and the area Governor and 15 local associations (with the support of respective micro-projects), as well as many religious leaders, community leaders, activists, young people and women. The goal is to reinforce Civil Society and community leadership regarding issues including dialogue, reconciliation, mediation, coexistence and peace building.
Between February 2015 and February 2016, the response of local partners has exceeded expectations for the project, which will continue in 2017. Here we present some achievements from the first part of the project, in partnership with Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR):
Creation of a Peace Council
The Nineveh Provincial Council hosted various meetings with tribal and religious leaders as well as leaders from ethnic minorities from the whole area, women, young people, artists and Civil Society organisations, and as a result managed to establish the Nineveh Peace Council.
Filming for the documentary “Nineveh Heroes”
Filming has begun for the “Nineveh Heroes” documentary, which will explore the work of the communities and situations that are the focus of the project. The first days of filming were dedicated to training courses for women and young people, but a key focus of the documentary will be the first-hand experience and personal stories of the activists involved in peace building in the area.
Creation of local peace committees
The mayors of Wana, Rabi’a, Zumar and Sinuni are all involved in the programme and have broadened their commitment to reconciliation, peace and coexistence, by hosting meetings with religious and community leaders and the establishment of Local Peace Committees in each area. Mayors and local authorities have also involved young people, women and their community leaders in training courses on dialogue, peace building and the key role of women in conflict resolution.
Women of Nineveh Alliance for Peace
Activists, women from the communities, and leaders of Civil Society organisations and local and provincial authorities created the Women of Nineveh Alliance for Peace. The Alliance unites women from the tribal, religious and ethnic minority communities so they can work together to promote coexistence, peace, reconciliation and the empowerment of women, by encouraging their participation in the peacebuilding process.
Trauma treatment for Yezidi women and dialogue across communities
Fifty-four Yezidi women who suffered violence were selected for a training course in overcoming the trauma of war in the Sharya IDP camp. Local organisations “Al-Tahrir” and “RID” launched a series of meetings in Wan’a, Rabi’a, Zumar and Sinuni to discuss coexistence and building dialogue between communities.
The local association ‘Peace and Freedom Organisation of Kurdistan’ set up courses to train 18 young journalists in the use of social media and peace journalism. Once trained, these young people will be able to broadcast messages of reconciliation, peace and coexistence through traditional and social media.
Opening of the Zumar Youth Centre for Peace
The young activists of Zumar have opened their Youth Peace Centre, bringing together young men and women from different communities start removing rubble and rebuilding areas destroyed by war, with a focus on youth empowerment and their involvement in peace building activities. Local authorities have requested similar centres in other cities in order to work with young people and avoid radicalisation e faith-based violence, by encouraging them to play an active role in rebuilding, reconciliation and dialogue.
Handbook: "Community-based meditation, dialogue and reconciliation in Nineveh" [ENG, 2016]
Handbook: "Community-based meditation, dialogue and reconciliation in Nineveh" [ARAB, 2016]
"Nineveh Paths. Towards just and lasting peace" [ENG, 2016]
"Nineveh Paths. Towards just and lasting peace" [ARAB, 2016]
Project name: Nineveh Paths to Social Cohesion, Coexistence and Peace
Project type: Peacebuilding, social cohesion and support for Civil Society
Beneficiaries: IDP communities with a special focus on women and youth, local Civil Society Organisations, local institutions, human rights and environmental activists
Length: October 2015 - October 2017
Project areas: Governorates of Erbil and Dohuk, Nineveh Plane (provinces of Zumar, Sinuni, Wana and Rabi’a) - Iraq