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Iraq Foundation would like to wish a happy Eid al-Fitr to all Muslims in Iraq and around the world in culmination of the month of Ramadan. We wish everyone safety and happiness with family and friends during this holy time. Eid Mubarak!

 

يتقدم المعهد العراقي بأطيب التهاني وأصدق التمنيات بمناسبه عيد الفطر المبارك

 

Today, June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a day to recognize the struggle of millions of refugees around the world, and to commemorate their strength, courage, and perseverance. The war against ISIS (Da’esh) in Iraq has led millions to flee their homes, joining a vast refugee population not only from the Middle East, but from many corners of the world. The Iraq Foundation recognizes the selfless efforts put forth by the United Nations and many governmental and non-governmental organizations to assist the over three million internally displaced Iraqis, and countless others effected by this conflict.

With many civilians still fleeing ISIS and thousands more already in refugee and displacement camps across neighboring countries, the Iraq Foundation expresses our support for all refugees who have risked everything in search of safety for themselves and their loved ones. While the conflict is still ongoing and much work remains to be done, the Iraq foundation continues to push for a sustainable solution to this crisis so that individuals in harm’s way may be able to resume their lives once more. It is critical to note that while the world acknowledges refugee suffering on this one day, for them it is a continuous struggle that will last long after the sun goes down.

Iraq Foundation is deeply concerned by the Human Rights Watch report that over 300 displaced families have been forced out of camps by the Iraqi army and other security forces to return to west Mosul. While IF understands the crowded conditions in camps and the need to accommodate more recently displaced persons from high-risk areas, no family should be removed from a camp against their will. In addition, these individuals are being sent to highly volatile areas in close proximity to the front lines. They are largely food insecure, do not have access to clean water, and have no economic opportunity to return to.

IF urges that the proper steps be taken by camp personnel and the international community to ensure safe shelter for all displaced persons. When returnees do go home, it must be to safe, secure areas with readily available water, food, and medical assistance. The sheer proximity of these newly-returned families to hazardous neighborhoods still threatened by Da’esh will only prolong the humanitarian efforts needed to rebuild Mosul.

Restricting journalism and freedom of the press deprives people from their most important resource: knowledge. When the public is unable to access valuable information, it obstructs their ability to learn and weakens nations as a whole. It is in the interest of all leaders and governments around the world to ensure an entirely free press in order to ensure future prosperity. When the press is respected, democracy flourishes. When governments are transparent, their populations thrive.

Iraq has proven to be an extremely hostile ground for journalists. Freedom of information is restricted, and the very lives of journalists themselves are constantly threatened. Iraq suffered one of the highest death tolls in 2016 with 11 journalists losing their lives according to the International News Safety Institute. To make matters worse, those responsible for such attacks have rarely been brought to justice. Journalists take great risks to tell the stories that make our world, and we owe it to them to protect their efforts with the utmost respect. The Iraq Foundation urges the international community and governments everywhere, not just in Iraq, to do all they can to protect these most sacred liberties and the individuals who devote their lives to a cause greater than themselves.

 

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Iraq Foundation wishes Yazidis everywhere peace and prosperity during the beautiful celebration of Sere Sal to mark the new year. This joyous occasion is testament to the relentless spirit of the Yazidi faith and communities all over the world.

Sadly, countless Yazidi women, children and men are deprived of this celebration as so many remain missing, captive, or have perished in the atrocious acts of Da’esh. The suffering they have endured will not be forgotten. We stand in solidarity with all Yazidis and look to the future in hopes that this year and all that follow will usher in a new era of peace.

Dr. Saniha Amin Zaki, a leading Iraqi physician, passed away last week. She was born in 1920 in Baghdad to an Iraqi family of Arab, Kurd and Turkman heritage.

She was a pioneer in medicine and the second Iraqi woman to enter medical school. After the establishment of the Iraqi government in the year 1921, Iraq underwent rapid change, embracing education, modernization, and ambitious concepts of personal freedom and the advancement of women. Many Iraqi women followed Dr. Saniha’s lead in mid-century, attending university and graduating as doctors, lawyers, and architects.

In 1943 Dr. Saniha graduated from the School of Medicine in Baghdad University. She earned a Master’s degree in Medicine from the University of London in 1965 and was Professor of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Baghdad.

She was a believer in education for women, and the right of women to professional and personal self-fulfillment. She stands as a noteworthy role model for women in Iraq today, who in a reversal of decades of progress, endure discrimination, exclusion and gender-motivated violence unlike anything seen in previous eras.

March 8th is a day to honor the achievements and contributions to society by so many inspiring women. It is also to recognize the rampant inequality women undeniably encounter not just in Iraq but around the world. Despite our current capacity as a global society, structural oppression still restricts women from the most basic freedoms and permits unjust persecution in societies rooted in patriarchal norms of the past. While progress has been made for women’s participation as citizens and in government, recent social shifts have threatened these advancements and turned the clock backward on the status of women in society. Far too many women are still denied an education, and face high risks of domestic violence, child marriage, and female genital mutilation. As critical as it is to provide women with the tools they need to prosper, it is equally important as a community to work together to empower them to build a strong, safe, and prosperous society.

IF applauds the removal of Iraq from the Trump Administration’s list of countries whose citizens are prohibited from entering the US on the basis of Iraq’s existing screening procedures, and acknowledges the efforts by the Iraqi government and top Administration officials who advocated for its removal. Iraq has been an effective partner in the fight against Da’esh, and it is crucial that Iraqi citizens and officials are legally able to enter the US. It is also vital the US honor its commitment to Iraqis who, along with their families, are eligible for citizenship in exchange for their prior service alongside American troops in Iraq, both as interpreters and other assistance roles, whose futures have been jeopardized by these measures.

IF stands by our principles of human rights, religious tolerance, and helping Iraq contribute to regional stability.

Today marks the end of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, a movement which began on the 25th of November with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and now concludes with Human Rights Day. IF recognizes the continuous efforts of the United Nations to foster a discourse that guarantees freedom, equality, and safety for women worldwide and in Iraq.

On this day dedicated to human rights, the Iraq Foundation reflects on the progress made by various governmental and non-governmental actors to guarantee the protection of human rights in Iraq and eliminate GBV. IF has worked with local partner organizations over the course of the last two years through our Al-Rasid Project to enable sustainable GBV-prevention methods within Iraq as a means of implementing the National Action Plan, pursuant with UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Women Peace and Security. With the help of partner stakeholders in sustainable development, IF looks forward to a day in which human rights are enshrined and GBV is eliminated across Iraq and around the world.

Iraq Foundation joins the United Nations in celebrating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and reemphasizes the necessity of preventing gender-based violence (GBV) not only in Iraq, but around the world. Today marks the 1st day of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV, which ends on December 10 with Human Rights Day.

Through programming such as Al-Rasid Project, IF has sought to combat GBV as a means of bolstering civil society and empowering women to become active stakeholders in Iraq. Alongside other international NGOs, IF’s projects have adapted to the specific concerns of Iraqi women, partnering with other international actors to assist survivors of violence in the wake of Da’esh. As a participant in projects related to UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, we join the United Nations in acknowledging this day as a reaffirmation of a collective desire to create a world in which women can live without the spectre of violence they presently face.

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