Japan and UNICEF will work together to provide access to services for more than 88,000 children living in areas of origin and returning from northeast Syria

UNICEF receives almost $7 million from Japan which will also serve to reach over 47,000 women. Overall, the number of beneficiaries will be more than 180,000 vulnerable people.

10 April 2023

BAGHDAD, 10 April 2023. – As announced today, UNICEF has received almost $7 million from Japan to promote equitable access to life-saving child protection, health, nutrition, and education services for returnees from northeast Syria. The project will be finalized by the end of 2023 and will benefit more than 180,000 people, including 88,000 children and more than 47,000 women.

The situation in northeast Syria remains a humanitarian and human rights challenge, and this new project will support the Government of Iraq-led efforts to scale up the returns process. The agreed interventions will address the reintegration needs of children and women in areas of origin as well as returnees. Support includes prevention and response to gender-based violence, mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS), health, nutrition, and education services. Unaccompanied children in detention and young people detained and released from detention will also be supported.

“UNICEF deeply appreciates Japan´s continued support to most vulnerable children in Iraq. This joint effort between UNICEF and Japan will enable returnee children and young people, especially girls to realize their rights, equipping them with critical skills and strengthening their ability to meaningfully contribute to society, promoting cohesion of communities affected by conflict and displacement,” said Sheema SenGupta, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “By protecting and empowering the most vulnerable children and young people, with a special focus on girls, we can ensure that no one is left behind.”

“The needs of returnees remain high in Iraq, and it is critical to enhance a protective environment and ensure that returnees have better access to quality basic services,” said Kenichi Masamoto, Charge d'Affaires ad interim in the Embassy of Japan in Iraq. “Japan and UNICEF share a vision of a seamless transition from humanitarian action to development and peace in Iraq, and this project aims to build social cohesion and acceptance of returnees. Japan is committed to work with UNICEF to support children, women and youth returning from northeast Syria and to address key challenges in their safe return and integration.”

The project will reach children below the age of 5 years as well as women, targeting both those who have returned to Iraq from northeast Syria, including Al-Hol camp, and those living in areas of origin. It will provide access to health and nutrition services, where children and adolescents will have access to formal and non-formal education, including life-skills based education and social cohesion programmes.

The funds will provide services that benefit returnees and other children in the areas of origin, including improved child protection services. Social cohesion and acceptance will be built through the provision of inclusive services to a wider population as well as targeting assistance to the returnee population.

By combating stigma and discrimination, the proposed interventions will foster social cohesion, peace and stability. In addition, UNICEF will work with communities to prevent discrimination based on gender and will promote equity by reaching the most vulnerable girls and young women who are excluded from various socioeconomic areas. Gender-related issues specific to both girls and boys will be identified to ensure unique needs are met and addressed.

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Monica Awad
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