The EU has announced €20 million of development cooperation to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq through the restoration of its cultural heritage and the creation of jobs and opportunities for vulnerable youth. The funds, to be signed on 21 February, will come under the flagship initiative ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ run by UNESCO, and designed to foster social cohesion and promote peace.
This initiative, which also has the full support of the government of Iraq, will focus on two main goals: the restoration and rehabilitation of cultural heritage, and the revival of educational and cultural institutions.
European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "The EU is committed to the reconstruction of Iraq. With today's new support, we will help to restore the rich cultural heritage of Mosul and Basrah, and at the same time create much needed jobs and opportunities."
This initiative will provide jobs and skills opportunities for vulnerable youth who will work on the restoration of urban infrastructure, thereby helping to recover the historic urban landscape of Mosul and Basrah. In doing so, it will foster social cohesion and identity around urban cultural heritage.
It will focus on providing tailored technical and vocation training opportunities for youth in the construction sector; set up intensive employment and on-the-job skills development schemes for site reconstructions; and provide small grants to Small and Medium Enterprises and associations with a focus on the revival of socio-economic and cultural activities.
The agreement was signed today in Brussels by European Commission's Director-General for International Cooperation and Development, Stefano Manservisi and Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture.
This funding announcement brings total development cooperation with Iraq to €309 million since the beginning of the crisis in 2015. This measure is furthermore part of the EU pledge at the Iraq Reconstruction Conference held in Kuwait in February 2018.
The EU has led the international humanitarian, reconstruction and development efforts for the Iraq crisis, responding to the humanitarian emergency and supporting the stability and development of the country. In line with the 2018 EU strategy for Iraq and the Council Conclusions of 19 May 2017 on Iraq as a pilot country for implementing the Humanitarian-Development Nexus, the EU has mobilised more than €309 million in development assistance since the beginning of the crisis.
UNESCO has a long-standing history of cooperation with Iraq, where it has been present since early 2003 and has already successfully accomplished a number of major cultural heritage projects, such as the restoration of the Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra, and the Revitalization of Erbil Citadel.
In February 2018, the International Conference on the Reconstruction of Iraq in Kuwait focused on the importance of the human dimension at the heart of sustainable recovery and reconstruction. On this occasion, Director-General of UNESCO – Audrey Azoulay - launched the flagship initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”. It is the most important reconstruction campaign undertaken by UNESCO in recent times.
The EU and UNESCO also have a long history of successful partnership in Iraq, particularly in the field of technical and vocational education reform and emergency education. Examples of ongoing projects on which the EU and UNESCO are collaborating in Iraq include:
- A €12.3M programme to reform technical and vocational education and training. The aim is to promote economic development by improving the quality and relevance of education and training.
- A €12.6M crisis response in the field of primary and secondary education. This programme is implemented in liberated areas, as well as in Erbil, Dohuk and Suleymaniyah. The aim is to encourage students (and particularly girls) to return to school, to ensure that appropriate support is provided to vulnerable students, and to develop the capacity of civil society organizations that are active and relevant in the provision of educational services for Internally Displaced Persons and Syrian refugees in Iraq.
- A €1M project – EDUU Education and Cultural Heritage/Enhancement for Social Cohesion in Iraq – which seeks to create an EU-Iraq partnership in the area of education and cultural heritage enhancement, connecting Universities, secondary schools and museums, with the aim of enhancing pluralism in Iraqi civil society.
- A €5M project to carry out an advanced survey of hydrogeological resources in Iraq.
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