“What I want more than anything is to work so I can keep my mind off everything that happened” – Arwa, an Iraqi woman displaced by ISIS.
Decades of War and Untold Brutality
It’s hard to imagine what the Iraqi people have gone through over the past few decades. War, invasion, and severe internal strife are only a few of the catastrophes that have killed millions, forced an untold number of families from their homes, and reshaped the future of so many Iraqi children.
Most recently in 2014, militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh, overcame Iraqi security forces, taking control over vast areas of northern Iraq – including its second largest city, Mosul. The takeover and violence that ensued has killed thousands, displaced millions, and left countless Iraqis living under the brutal rule of Daesh, including women and children for whom slavery, sexual violence and executions have become a tragic part of their daily lives.
Of those families who escaped the violence, millions fled towards the relative safety of Iraqi Kurdistan where host communities and international aid groups are stretching to manage the immense pressures placed on local economies as a result. The UN reported at the end of 2015 that 3.4 million Iraqis are in need of economic assistance, the majority of whom are found in Kurdistan and the surrounding areas, a number expected to nearly double by the end of 2016. An additional million people are anticipated to be displaced as a result of the offensive to liberate Mosul, an operation that officially began this October.
For Iraqis, this will be an all too familiar upheaval, but one that War Child will be uniquely positioned to help address.
War Child’s Response
In the fall of 2016, having completed an assessment to identify the specific needs of the displaced women and girls, War Child launched a multi-year project focused on the provision of economic livelihoods and psycho-social support for vulnerable displaced women and children in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Years of conflict has forced many women into the role of sole provider, while massive displacement, violence and an economic crisis has left a considerable lack of economic opportunity. Building on programming that was successfully introduced in communities across Afghanistan, War Child is providing market-based vocational and life skills training, and childcare for Iraqi women and their children. War Child also provides psycho-social and reintegration support programming to address the negative social stigma that so often leads to the marginalization of young women and children who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
By providing vocational training that fills existing economic needs, job placement services, small-business training and micro-finance loans, War Child empowers Iraqi women to generate their own income and access meaningful employment or start their own small-business collectives. Providing childcare at our program centres helps women access programming with ease as they work towards shaping the future they deserve.
All of this work would not be possible if not for War Child’s supporters. You can help us achieve this work in Iraq by donating here or by making a monthly donation that enables us to make a long-term commitment to the communities we serve, fostering peace building efforts around the world.