The European Union supports UN-Habitat to help returnees re-establish their lives in Sinjar, Tel Afar and Baaj districts [EN/AR]

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Erbil, Iraq – 9 February 2021 – Destroyed houses remain one of the main obstacles that prevent many internally displaced persons from returning to their hometowns and communities.

The absence of housing, jobs, and basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity, schools and health clinics, means that displaced people will try to remain in camps as long as possible. Alternatively, returning to their hometowns may mean moving in with relatives, sometimes three or four families in the same house, or renting, establishing temporary shelters in informal sites, or living in unfinished or empty buildings.

More than three years after the official end of war against ISIL, establishing durable solutions for displaced families remains critical.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) recently welcomed a generous contribution of EUR 10 million from the European Union (EU) through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syria Crisis, the Madad Fund, for a project titled “Support for Urban Recovery and Peacebuilding in Western Ninewa, Iraq.”

On 9 February, UN-Habitat, in cooperation with the EU, brought together the Assistant Governor of Ninewa and representatives from Sinjar, Tel Afar and Baaj districts to discuss urban recovery in conflict-affected communities in western Ninewa to which formerly displaced Iraqis continue to arrive.

“We would like to extend our appreciation to the EU for their generous donation and to UN-Habitat for this initiative, we need their help and we want their support to continue for rebuilding Iraq.” said Mr. Ali Omer Khidr, Assistant of Ninawa Governor, during the press brief.

Mr. Mahma Khalil, Mayor of Sinjar, said “Many thanks for the continued support of our partners and the EU for their generous contribution to help us to stabilize the situation in western Ninewa by helping displaced people to return which is dependent upon livelihood opportunities and rebuilding infrastructure.”

“We would like to thank UN-Habitat and the EU for this project, there is a huge need for housing units in Baaj district as it is one of the major challenges for returnees from Hamam Alil, Jaddeh and Salamiyah camps in addition to the lack of health, electricity and water infrastructure,” said Mr. Ahmed Youssef, Mayor of Baaj.

Mr. Qasim Mohammed, Mayor of Tel Afar, said “This initiative in Tel Afar is very much appreciated and we as the local government will fully support this initiative that will contribute the stability of Tel Afar and west Nineveh and encourage the resident to return and rehabilitate their areas.

Ambassador of the EU to Iraq, His Excellency Mr. Martin Huth, said: “This project illustrates the EU’s continued commitment to supporting the reconstruction of cities and towns, the resilience of communities and individuals, and the sustainable return of Iraqis who were forced to flee their homes. This is especially important at a time when increasing numbers of people are moving back to their communities after years in camps and informal settlements. The EU and its partners are committed to ensuring that people can go home in safety and in dignity. This initiative will support some of the most vulnerable returnees in Baaj, Telafar and Sinjar and allow communities to heal and rebuild.”

“This new project in Sinjar, Tel Afar and Baaj districts of Ninewa Governorate, is designed to take a community approach to recovery, focussing on all aspects needed for people to return home: housing, basic services, livelihoods and housing, land and property rights,” explained Mr. Wael Al-Ashhab, Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, during the press brief.

UN-Habitat established a presence in Sinjar in 2016 and is now expanding to Tel Afar and Baaj. With this great support of the EU, the living conditions of recent returnees in project locations will be improved, allowing many who are still in camps, living with relatives or renting to return to their properties, and to dignified, adequate and appropriate living conditions.

For more information please contact:

Mr. Aryan Star Muheddin
Communications Specialist, UN-Habitat
Mobile number: +964 (0)751 103 9494