Program Background

Kirkuk, our project region, is a religiously and ethnically diverse region, but due to historical factors there is high tension among the diverse groups that live in the area. However, after the self-claimed “IS” emerged in 2014, violence broke out and around 500,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) relocated to the 700,000 resident Kirkuk city. A new conflict has arisen between the physically and mentally injured IDPs surviving very difficult conditions and the host community that started suffering from an economic crisis due to the flow of IDPs which made the living situation in Kirkuk more complicated and difficult than ever.

Social coexistence program targeting children (Kirkuk governate)

Preparing and wearing mask activity: by wearing the mask children felt safe to express their opinions without worrying about their surroundings.

From 2009 to 2012 JVC had launched, in cooperation with the local organization INSAN, peace workshops for children from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds to learn the meaning of mutual coexistence and peace. Since 2015, JVC has annually launched a similar program under the name “Peace Yard” which included phycological care as well. So far around 550 children and their families have benefitted from this program. In the beginning of Peace Yard some children expressed hostility towards others, however as the program progressed the tension gradually decreased and children started to mutually accept and cooperate with one another.

[Outcome]

After the mask activities children were able to communicate more efficiently and the tension among them was reduced.

In 2017, we gathered children from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds and launched Peace Yard to learn about peace and coexistence. ISNAN recruited a total of 65 children from 6 diffident districts, through its volunteer-based community committee program. The children were chosen to create devised representation and focused on recruiting IDPs children that need support and requested it in addition to local children. 70% of the children were IDPs while 30% were locals. Ethnically 15% were Kurds, 80% were Arabs, and 5% were Turkmen. Ages were between 6 and 16 years old and 60% of them were female. We gathered children 2 times a week on average for about 13 sessions over a period of one and half month. At the end of the program a closing ceremony was conducted where local residents were invited and the children did a presentation about their activities. Around 100 guests attended the ceremony, including participants’ guardians, community committee members, teaching staff, local representatives, and journalists. Additionally, JVC invited the members of INSAN staff to Japan and held workshops and lectures in cooperation with them.

Non-violence workshop in Niigata; Iraqi and Japanese people were able to cooperate and learn while having fun.

It is difficult to conduct peace and coexistence programs in areas where people are polarized due to the influence of conflict, but this kind of atmosphere is an additional reason to conduct such activities. Therefore, JVC will continue this program through 2018.

[Source: JVC Annual Report 2017]

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