Saturday, 06 October 2018 20:37

UN Deputy Special Representative Alice Walpole Hears Firsthand the Concerns and Hopes of Christian, Shabak Communities During Visit to Ninewa Plains of Northern Iraq

Bartella, 3 October 2018 - Supporting minority rights and political representation is one of the pillars of the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

It reflects the extraordinary religious and ethnic diversity of this ancient land. These minorities, including the Assyrians, Chaldean, and Syriac, whose origins date back to Babylonian and Sumerian times, were among the communities which suffered immensely from the horrors of the terrorist Da’esh’s brutal rule and discrimination. Since the defeat of Da’esh, these communities, along with others, are struggling with the aftershocks of the fight against the terrorist organization and yearn to return to normality. Helping them survive and preserve their culture and lifestyle by addressing their concerns and needs not only serves to strengthen tolerance and coexistence but also consolidates the spirit of reconciliation in post-conflict Iraq.

On 3 October, the Deputy Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ms. Alice Walpole, visited this remote corner of northwestern Iraq, liberated from Da’esh last year, to meet Christian and Shabak communities who have lived on this land for many centuries and to listen to their current concerns and hopes for the future. Understanding the causes of tension between Christian and Shabak communities, arising from extensive demographic changes, and identifying ways of finding durable solutions were a key focus of the meetings. Christian community leaders requested that UNAMI press the authorities in Baghdad to enact pertinent laws to preserve the Christian character of their districts, and both Christian and Shabak representatives called on the UN to assist in efforts to ensure that local administrations are enabled themselves to prioritise projects to provide better services and related job opportunities for villagers, to protect their way of life and remain on their land.

Ms. Walpole met in Bartella and Hamdaniya district with representatives of the Christian and Shabak communities, including the Mayor of Bartella and the incoming Shabak quota seat MP, Mr. Qusay Abbas. Ms. Walpole also visited the monastery of Der Mar Matti of the Syriac Orthodox Church, site of one of the oldest Christian monasteries in existence, where Cleric Yousif voiced his concerns for local communities and urged the UN to play a good offices role in the area.

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Photos: UNAMI PIO/Sarmad Al-Safy

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