Baghdad – UN-Habitat’s Executive Director (ED), Mrs. Maimunah Sharif, met with Ambassador Suzuki, Japan’s Ambassador to Iraq and thanked the Government of Japan for its longstanding partnership and continued trust in UN-Habitat’s initiatives.
The partnership between the Government of Japan and UN-Habitat in Iraq dates back to 2004. Between then and 2008, UN-Habitat has implemented several projects with Japanese funding, including rehabilitating damaged houses and public infrastructures such as schools, establishing vocational training schools, and installing new water and sanitation facilities. Japan has categorically been a long-standing partner and donor in major rebuilding projects.
In his meeting with the ED, the Japanese Ambassador Suzuki said:
“Humans cannot start to live without a shelter. Not only a decent home, but essential supply of water, sanitation and electricity; we also need to earn money for livelihood.
“The people in that region are still suffering from lack of all these, on top of communal and safety concerns.
“True to its name, UN-Habitat’s integrated approach give consideration to this, caring for real people’s life. It is in line with the notion of “human security” envisaged in Japan’s assistance policy.
“It is with trust and good wishes of Japanese people to Iraqi people in plight, that Japan decided to finance these projects. UN-Habitat, with its local and global achievements, is a greatly reliable partner in these projects.”
Presently, UN-Habitat is the only organization in Iraq constructing low-cost houses for Internally Displaced Person (IDPs). In her meeting with the Ambassador, the ED enthusiastically acknowledged and appreciated the role of Japanese funding in UN-Habitat’s urban-recovery initiatives. The ED also thanked the Japanese Government for extending emergency support towards returnees in the face of a global pandemic.
Since the Japanese Fiscal Year 2014, the Government of Japan has provided more than USD 56 million to UN-Habitat (Iraq). Japan is currently funding two ongoing projects, namely: “Support to Reconstruction and Peace-building of Liberated Cities in Iraq – Phase III (FY2019 project)” and “Emergency Support to Returnees in Iraq after the Outbreak of COVID-19 (FY2020 project)”. These projects have massively contributed to social stabilization and UN’s peace-building efforts in Iraq. Apart from discussing the existing projects, the prospects of launching new ones in the future were also discussed in ED’s meeting with the Ambassador.
Both the Japanese Ambassador and the ED recognized that the main challenge faced by UN-Habitat today is the influx of IDPs. By 2017, the number of people returning to their homes has surpassed the number of people displaced in Iraq. However, the damage to their houses is one of the main obstacles preventing many IDPs from returning. Therefore, it was mutually agreed in the meeting that solving the housing crisis in liberated cities is an urgent need, not only for the displaced persons but also for communities who have been bearing the heavy burden of hosting many IDPs for more than three years.
The meeting strengthened the commitment of both parties to further work for incorporating sustainable and context-based practices in the liberated cities of Iraq.
Source: United Nations Iraq