Malteser International has launched a new aid project to rebuild destroyed homes and create lasting future prospects for inhabitants of the Nineveh Plains in northwestern Iraq. The €30-million aid package will support measures aimed at assisting the return and reintegration process of communities displaced by IS terror and fighting in the region. Around 30,000 returnees and residents of the Nineveh Plains will benefit directly from the measures.

The Nineveh Plains is home to various ethnic and religious groups including Christians, Yazidis, Kaka’e, and Muslims. The ISIS occupation of the region in forcefully displaced millions from their homes, with many forced to seek refuge abroad, with families, or in camps for displaced persons within Iraq. The project area encompasses two districts of the Ninewa Governorate and targets people in rural communities and urban areas.

Aiding a safe return: Reconstruction, economic development, education and social cohesion

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the program will run in two phases from October 2018 to December 2020. The first phase will involve the reconstruction of destroyed or damaged buildings in the area with a total volume of €10 million.

The second phase will commence in January 2019 with measures aimed at promoting economic development, education, socio-cultural cohesion and inter-religious dialogue.

“What we are asking is this: What do people need to re-establish themselves in their homelands after fleeing war and terror?” said Ingo Radtke, Malteser International’s Secretary General. “The holistic program we have developed will take into account the manifold needs of returnees after war and displacement – not just as citizens, but also as religious members, families and communities.”

To improve livelihood and bring about economic development, Malteser International will finance measures in agriculture including the reconstruction of irrigation systems, provide grants for small and medium-sized enterprises, and establish centers for vocational training. The education component of the project will see that schools are rehabilitated and expanded, and that teachers receive training to provide adequate education in post-conflict contexts.

As part of the project, a wide range of seminars and training courses in community and youth centers will seek to foster peaceful coexistence.

“The demographic make-up of the Nineveh Plains is highly diverse with various ethno-religious groups,” Radtke said. “These community centers will bring people from different ethnic and religious groups together to acquire vocational skills. At the same time, the centers allow them to get to know and, more importantly, appreciate the cultural diversity of their region.”

A partnership project initiated by Aid to Church in Need (ACN) and implemented by local organizations

The project was initiated by Catholic aid organization, Aid to Church in Need (ACN). ACN which is already active in the Nineveh Plains and closely connected to local actors, handed over the management of the program to Malteser International and was involved in its further development.

“Thanks to our excellent contacts at Aid to Church in Need, we were able to quickly find reliable local partners in the region, and together we will achieve the reconstruction goals we have set for ourselves in the Nineveh Plains,” said Radtke.

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