Baghdad, 8 June 2021 - UN Habitat’s Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, has visited Iraq for the first time and called for all levels of the Government to work together on urban sustainability, resilience and climate change.
The Executive Director met with Mr. Kahtan Taha, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, to express her deepest appreciation for all the support the Iraq government have provided to UN-Habitat.
In this meeting, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs said: “I am glad to meet today the USG and the ED of UN-Habitat and learn about UN-Habitat Programme in Iraq, particularly since Iraq needs more support to the reconstruction efforts of housing and infrastructure to ensure sustainable return of IDPs.”
The Executive Director also met with the Governor of Anbar, the Minister of Planning (MoP) of Iraq, the Minister of Justice (MoJ), and the Minister of Finance (MoF), in separate meetings.
In the meeting with the Governor of Anbar, the ED witnessed the signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further cement the partnership between the two parties and improve lives for the people of Iraq.
The Executive Director also referred to the numerous urban recovery and reconstruction projects that UN-Habitat has implemented so far in the recently liberated areas and emphasized how the success of its future reconstruction programmes is contingent on the strong support from the Iraqi Government and its Ministries, and encouraged them to coordinate closely to amplify the impact of urban recovery initiatives.
A matter critical to UN-Habitat’s Iraq Programme was discussed in both her meetings with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Justice, as the Executive Director requested their support for the formal recognition by the Government of Housing, Land, and Property (HLP) rights of Yazidis in Sinjar. Since 2017, UN-Habitat has been working with the Government of Iraq to endorse a decree to officially recognize the HLP rights of the Yazidi minority in Sinjar. So far, UN-Habitat has distributed more than 9,000 Occupancy Certificates to Yazidi returnees.
The passing of the legal decree granting Yazidi land rights would represent a significant triumph for both the Government of Iraq and UN-Habitat as this would be the first time in modern history that occupancy rights for the Yazidi minority in Sinjar are formally recognized, thereby providing them with legal property rights. Moreover, the decree is in line with the recent agreement between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Region Government to work collaboratively on building peace and stability in Sinjar.
Finally, the Executive Director requested a concerted effort by MoP, MoF and local authorities towards knowledge sharing on urban sustainability, resilience and climate change. These elements play a key role in implementing the New Urban Agenda, a framework unanimously adopted in 2016 at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), that lays out how cities should be planned and managed to promote sustainable development. In this sense, facilitating the institutional collaboration of government actors to engage in joint action with UN-Habitat will offer an effective model for enhancing the value of its urban-recovery initiatives.
In her first visit to Baghdad, the ED successfully elevated UN-Habitat’s relationship with key Government stakeholders to a new level, strengthening the engagement of key decision makers in the urban realm and reiterating the agency’s commitment to improving the lives of the Iraqi people.
For more information please contact:
Mr. Aryan Star Muheddin
Communications Specialist, UN-Habitat
Mobile number: +964 (0)751 103 9494