Doha: Signing of the Italy-UNESCO Agreement on children’s education in Iraq

The Director General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Giorgio Marrapodi, and the Director of the UNESCO Office in Iraq, Paolo Fontani, signed an agreement today in Doha for the implementation of a joint cooperation project aimed at ensuring access to education for children in Iraq who currently cannot go to school.

The agreement is part of a broader program also funded by the Education Above All Foundation of Qatar. Italy will support the project with one million euros. The aim is to help remove some of the obstacles that limit access to education in Iraq.

The funds will be used by UNESCO to rehabilitate ten schools, conduct education campaigns, and enroll 17,000 boys and girls of the Governorships of Salah al-Din and Baghdad.

Director General Marrapodi commented:

In the Iraqi context it is even more important than anywhere else to create synergies between the different sources of knowledge and experience: Iraq, Italy, Education Above All and UNESCO will each offer an important contribution to the activities of the project.

“We are confident that this project will be a starting point for a broader and more fruitful trilateral collaboration with Qatar, in Iraq and also in other contexts”.

At the signing ceremony of the agreement, Paolo Fontani, Director of the UNESCO Office in Iraq, said:

“UNESCO is particularly grateful to the Italian Government and to Educate A Child – the global programme of the Education Above All Foundation – for the support provided to the project. Improved access to education for excluded boys and girls is the best possible contribution to their future and to the future of Iraq.”

Italy’s Ambassador to Qatar, Pasquale Salzano, commented:

We are pleased that the signing of this agreement takes place in Doha within the framework of the WISE Summit, and that it focuses, in particular, on access to education for children in disadvantaged countries.

“Italy has always been one of the major contributors to UNESCO and the project agreement signed today in Doha strengthens our commitment to promote access to education, alongside Qatar and the Education Above All foundation which is engaged in Iraq in Africa and in the world, providing education to over 10 million children living in crisis areas.”

(Source: UNESCO)

The United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) renewed their collaboration to the flagship UNESCO initiative Revive the Spirit of Mosul earlier this morning, extending the historic partnership on restoration and reconstruction efforts in Mosul, Iraq. Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; and Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO met earlier today at the organisation’s headquarters in Paris, signaling a continued focus on rebuilding iconic landmarks that lie at the core of human civilisations.

This agreement arises in line with the UAE championing 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, emphasising tolerance as a universal concept and a sustainable institutional endeavour through legislation and policies aimed at entrenching the values of tolerance, dialogue, coexistence and openness to different cultures.

Concluding in the presence of His Excellency, Abdulrahman Hamid al-Husseini, Iraq’s Ambassador to France; HE Dr. Mohamed Ali Al Hakim, Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Brother Nicolas Tixier, Prior Provincial of the Province of France of the Dominican Order; and Brother Olivier Poquillon, General Secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU, the new agreement today reiterates the restoration efforts for the rebuilding of two destroyed cultural sites; the Al-Tahera Church and the Al-Saa’a Church.

The project is an extension of the historic agreement signed earlier in April 2018 whereby the Emirates committed $50.4 million to contribute to the rebuilding of the cultural heritage of Mosul. The project initially concerned the restoration and reconstruction of the historic landmarks of Mosul, notably the emblematic Al-Nouri Mosque and its celebrated, leaning 45-metre Al-Hadba Minaret, built more than 840 years ago.

With the renewed partnership, the UAE will support the reconstruction of the 800-year old Al-Tahera Church, located in the Midan area in Mosul’s Old City and considered one of the oldest churches in the area, dating back to the first millennium; and the Al-Saa Church, also known as Our Lady of the Hour Church, which became a living example of the brotherhood between the people of Mosul who have graduated from its educational institution, regardless of their religious background.

These efforts will also contribute to the construction of a museum and memorial site which will exhibit and preserve remnants and history of the restored mosque and churches, with engaging community and educational spaces. The museum and memorial will have a long-lasting impact on Mosul’s young community with the creation of training and job opportunities for over 1,000 young Moslawis, the development of sustainable skills for those employed by the project and through educational and training opportunities, and the significant contribution of the project to the local economy through cultural tourism for Mosul and Iraq.

To date, the project has employed 27 Iraqis and contracted 4 Iraqi companies, with efforts to further bolster this growth as the project progresses. The UAE has also engaged with over 50 local Iraqis to receive direct feedback about their perspective on the restoration of the cultural sites that reflect their country’s legacy.

Speaking on the momentous occasion, HE Noura Al Kaabi remarked:

We are very honoured to sign this partnership with UNESCO and the people of Iraq to take our efforts further in helping rebuild Mosul and reviving the spirit of co-existence and social cohesion. Our work with UNESCO around the world is testament to our country’s commitment to furthering the organisation’s mandate through international cooperation within the fields of education, culture and science.

“Today’s signing is a pioneering partnership that sends a message of light, in seemingly darker times. By rebuilding a fraction of the past, Iraq can shape its future as an inclusive, tolerant and open society which has always found a tangible manifestation in Mosul’s rich historical sites.

“As we start working with UNESCO to reconstruct the ancient Al-Tahera Church, considered to be one of the most ancient churches in Mosul dating back to the 7th Century; as we break ground rebuilding ‘Our Lady of the Hour’, a catholic church built by Dominican Fathers; the UAE becomes the first country in the world to reconstruct Christian churches in Iraq.”

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s General Director joined HE Al Kaabi in the announcement of the renewed partnership:

Today was an important step for the recovery of the Old City of Mosul. With the inclusion of the two churches Al Tahera and Al-Saa in our project we are all strongly mobilized. This rehabilitation aims to reclaim the true spirit of the City, a story of peaceful coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups.

“I am thankful to the United Arab Emirates and Minister Al Kaabi who have generously supported our Initiative since the beginning, and who believe, as we do, that there is no true reconstruction and revival without Culture and Education.

The Al-Tahera Church of Syriac Catholics in Mosul is considered as one of the largest and oldest churches in the Old City of Mosul. Located in the heart of the first inhabited hilltop of Mosul, known as Qile’aat, near the river, Al-Tahera was surrounded by other churches and mosques.

Before its destruction, the church used to include a school, a library, and a healthcare centre, and it was symbolic of the peaceful coexistence between Christian and Muslim communities in the Old City of Mosul.

The Al-Saa’a Church, which means “Church of the Clock” in Arabic, lies at the heart of the Old City of Mosul. Belonging to the Dominican Fathers, who built it between 1866 and 1873, historians say that Empress Eugenie (María Eugenia de Montijo), wife of Napoleon III, the last emperor of France, donated the funding for the bell tower, which is one of the iconic landmarks of the historic town of Mosul today. Al-Saa’a Church used to have a school and many Moslawis graduated from this educational institution, regardless of their faith, Christian or Muslim.

(Source: UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development)

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq poised for ambitious plan after Babylon listed by UNESCO

After 36 years of lobbying by Iraq, the ancient Mesopotamian city of Babylon was designated in JulyUNESCO World Heritage Site.

But this may mean even harder work for Baghdad and the local administration, which now have to implement a tough plan for the management and protection of the site that was the seat of successive empires under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar.

Click here to read the full article.

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Can Iraq get its water wheels on UNESCO World Heritage List?

Iraq has been working for the last three months to rehabilitate its historical norias in Hit, a city located in western Iraq on the banks of the upper Euphrates River.

The Iraqi government aims to inscribe these water wheels, which played an important role in the irrigation of the land for centuries, on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Iraq’s ancient city of Babylon has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated 85 km south of Baghdad, the property includes the ruins of the city which, between 626 and 539 BCE, was the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

It includes villages and agricultural areas surrounding the ancient city. Its remains, outer and inner-city walls, gates, palaces and temples, are a unique testimony to one of the most influential empires of the ancient world.

Seat of successive empires, under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon represents the expression of the creativity of the Neo-Babylonian Empire at its height.

The city’s association with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Hanging Gardens—has also inspired artistic, popular and religious culture on a global scale.

(Source: UNESCO)

By John Lee.

Iraqi President Barham Salih has called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to include the ancient city of Babylon in its World Heritage List.

The President made the request at meeting with UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay in France.

They also discussed the provision of job opportunities within UNESCO for Iraqi workers in the area of “scientific research sector, developing plans and programs to address problems in water resources and environment, improving education and granting priority to scholarship for researchers“.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)

By John Lee.

Iraqi President Barham Salih has called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to include the ancient city of Babylon in its World Heritage List.

The President made the request at meeting with UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay in France.

They also discussed the provision of job opportunities within UNESCO for Iraqi workers in the area of “scientific research sector, developing plans and programs to address problems in water resources and environment, improving education and granting priority to scholarship for researchers“.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)

EU Signs Contracts of 57.5 Million Euros with UN to Support Mosul Recovery, Promises Additional 20 Million Euros Next Month

A delegation from the United Nations in Iraq and the European Union Mission to Iraq yesterday toured a number of EU-funded and UN implemented projects in Mosul, seeing first-hand the clearance, stabilization, rehabilitation and development work undertaken in the northern Iraqi city more than a year after its liberation from Da’esh.

Illustrating the joint efforts in post-Da’esh Iraq, the EU signed a contract with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) worth 47.5 million euros, another with UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) totaling 10 million euros, and announced 20 million euros in additional support for UNESCO as well as a further 15 million support for FAO, to be signed in January 2019.

The conflict with Da’esh has destroyed many areas of Mosul and Ninewa Governorate, and displaced a large number of the population. Since the military defeat of Da’esh a year ago, many people have returned, encouraged by the efforts to ensure a secure and safe environment. Some areas still lack basic services, and the UN, in support of the Iraqi authorities, are working to ensure a decent living for the people to facilitate the dignified return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The delegation called on the Governor of Ninewa, Nawfal Al-Agoub, after which a signing ceremony was held.

EU Director for Development Cooperation for Asia, Central Asia, Middle East/Gulf and the Pacific Region, Pierre Amilhat, said:

“The Iraqi people have suffered enough, and the country is on the cusp of entering into a renewed phase of state-building. Today exemplifies the strong commitment the EU along with its UN partners have in shouldering Iraq in this critical phase. With the territorial defeat of Da’esh, all of us together have a window of opportunity to build an inclusive and accountable country and restore the trust between the people and their Government. This multi-pronged initiative will join the dots between the various reconstruction components, and significantly contribute to the betterment of the Iraqi people”.

UNDP Resident Representative a.i. for Iraq, Gerardo Noto, said:

“We are grateful to EU for our excellent partnership. We jointly help people of Iraq so that no one is left behind as all UN Members Countries committed in the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is yet another practical example of support to the authorities and citizens of Iraq in regaining the trust of the local communities and rebuilding the state institutions towards a new social contract to sustaining peace and sustainable development”.

Earlier, the EU-UN delegation visited the Old City, site of some of the worst fighting – and destruction. They inspected the reconstruction work at the Al-Nuri Mosque, a symbol of Mosul’s history and culture that Da’esh deliberately destroyed its landmark leaning minaret before their retreat from the city. The work is part of ongoing projects to repair heritage sites by UNESCO throughout Mosul Old City’s funded by the EU.

UNESCO has launched “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”, an initiative that has the support of the Government of Iraq and in line with the Initial Planning Framework for Reconstruction of Mosul, which was jointly developed by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and UNESCO in collaboration with the Governorate of Ninewa, to rehabilitate Mosul’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Restoring the identities within the communities of Mosul and other liberated areas of Iraq contributes to reconciliation and promotes more just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

“UNESCO is very grateful to the EU for its contribution to the reconstruction and restoration of the Old City of Mosul, in the context of the UNESCO ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul Initiative’. This support contributes to the physical reconstruction of one of Iraq’s most emblematic historical cities, which has been severely damaged and destroyed. It also benefits directly the local community – by providing skills and jobs to thousands of young people” stated Louise Haxthausen, Head of UNESCO in Iraq. “We are particularly pleased that part of this contribution is dedicated to the urban rehabilitation of the old city of Basra, another highly significant historical city of Iraq,” added Louise Haxthausen.

UN-Habitat and UNDP are also working together in Mosul to rehabilitate damaged houses, repair secondary infrastructure, retrofit public facilities such as schools to promote the environmental responsiveness of buildings, and involve youth in redesign of public open spaces. Yuko Otsuki, Head of UN-Habitat in Iraq, expressed gratitude for the EU support “to continue improving the living conditions of Iraqi population through urban recovery investments and job and income generating opportunities in conflict-affected areas.”

The delegation toured Mosul University, once a major centre of learning in Iraq that Da’esh turned into a command post and weapons cache. Mosul University, Iraq’s second largest university, has suffered major damage, and it is estimated that rehabilitation work would require 350-500 million dollars. The university was cleared of explosive hazards, included Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

The work of UNMAS lies at the core of the stabilization and rehabilitation work. Mindful that no stabilization work and return of IDPs can be sustainable without ensuring a safe environment, the EU signed a contract granting UNMAS 10 million euros to continue the clearance of contaminated hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, religious sites and neighborhoods.

“We are very grateful for the support provided by the international community and more specifically by the EU. With this contribution, UNMAS Iraq will be expanding the clearance capacity in Mosul and also deploy capacity in Sinjar,” said Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager.

The group also visited the Ninewa Directorate of Agriculture where they were briefed about a project supported by the EU and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to support recovery of agricultural livelihoods by revitalizing of food production, value chains and income generation in Ninewa.

“I am so pleased to see the EU has agreed to help us rehabilitate key facilities and equipment of the Directorate as well as rebuilding livelihoods for so many smallholder farmers. Creating jobs in this heart land of agriculture is really key to community stabilization,” said Dr Fadel El-Zubi, FAO Country Representative in Iraq.

The EU has contributed a total of 184.4 million euros since 2016 to support stabilization and humanitarian efforts undertaken by the UN in support of the Government of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

UN-Habitat and UNESCO presented the Initial Planning Framework for Reconstruction of Mosul

On 15 November 2018, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) presented the Initial Planning Framework for the Reconstruction of Mosul, offering perspectives on how to ‘Build Back Better’ the city for the people of Mosul.

Over 100 participants from the local government, private sector, civil society organizations and the United Nations agencies gathered at the Ninewa Governor’s office to discuss the priorities and recommendations for the reconstruction of Mosul, with special attention to the Old City.

The event highlighted the complex challenges ensuring a fast reconstruction, while protecting the heritage and historical characteristics of the Old City. It also touched upon the problems that wider Mosul is currently facing in the housing sector and the urgent need to support vulnerable returnees whose houses were completely destroyed, which continues to be a major obstacle for the return of internally displaced persons in camps to Mosul.

H.E. Mr. Nawfal Al Sultan, Governor of Ninewa, noted the prominent role of the United Nations agencies in the reconstruction of Mosul, and reiterated the importance of collaboration between the government offices, the United Nations agencies and the people of Mosul. He also expressed his hope that Ninewa will be built back better, asking for continuous support from the international community.

Ms. Marta Ruedas, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, explained that the Framework provides a holistic and integrated approach for the reconstruction of Mosul, noting that the top priority is to protect heritage sites in the Old City from further damage as analysed and recommended in the Framework.

Both H.E. Mr. Nawfal Al Sultan and Ms. Marta Ruedas called for setting up a specialised committee to follow up on and ensure that the actions recommended in the Framework are endorsed by the relevant authorities and implemented in a timely manner.

After gathering comments and feedback, the Framework will be finalized and distributed to key stakeholders, including national and local government counterparts, representatives of civil society, the private sector and the community, United Nations agencies and donors.

(Source: UN)

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Some of Iraq’s most significant archaeological discoveries have been made in the city of Samara. Samara lies on both sides of the River Tigris north of Baghdad.

It marks the site of a powerful Islamic capital that ruled over the Abbasid Empire which stretched from Tunisia to Central Asia for a century.

It’s estimated 80 per cent of it still lies undiscovered. UNESCO says it should be protected as a World Heritage Site.

But locals say some of its landmarks are being left to crumble.

Al Jazeera‘s Rob Matheson reports from Baghdad, Iraq: