December 29, 2011 News
Baghdad, December 29, 2011
In order to promote nationwide peacebuilding efforts, the Government of Iraq (GoI) held its first Annual National Reconciliation Festival at Al Rasheed Hotel.
The festival was organized by the Iraqi Prime Minister's Office. It was chaired by Dr. Amer al-Khuza'e, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Reconciliation. Senior Iraqi Officials, Members of the Parliament, UN representatives, Military officials, Tribal leaders, Ex-combatant commanders, and the Diplomatic Core in Baghdad were all in attendance.
At the event, Dr. al-Khuza'e recognized IOM for its contribution to national reconciliation efforts in Iraq. Alongside the governments of the United States, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and others, IOM was presented with an honourary plaque. IOM was the only international organization to receive this plaque, and was thanked by the Prime Minister's Office for its efforts to rebuild the nation.
Dr. al-Khuza'e specifically acknowledged IOM Iraq's past support in providing the people of Iraq with income generating projects. "The International Organization for Migration has proved to be highly capable,"Dr. al-Khuza'e remarked. "All over the country, IOM's income generating programs have helped Iraqi citizens establish livelihoods."
He also stated that because IOM has the technical capabilities to assist 50,000 Sons of Iraq (SOI) transition from military to civilian life, IOM will be the GoI's primary partner in upcoming reintegration initiatives for former combatants.
Over the past 60 years, IOM has led Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) projects in countries such as Colombia, Angola, the Philippines, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, amongst others. As a result of this extensive experience, IOM has cultivated an organizational capacity and developed a core of specialists able to successfully design and implement comprehensive reintegration strategies.
Addtionally, IOM has over 300 staff based in all eighteen governorates, and has the strongest field presence among all organizations in the United Nations Country Team (UNCT). Over the past 9 years, IOM has directly and indirectly assisted over 3 million people in Iraq. This unique presence in support of the GoI, in combination with IOM's extensive DDR background, as well as the Mission's efficient Supply Chain Management System, will allow for the Organization to successfully implement peacebuilding and national reconiciliation efforts in Iraq.
Chief of Mission Mike Pillinger stated that this award is an honour for IOM, but that it comes at a critical moment for the country. He remarked: "The success or failure of the peacebuilding process will depend on decisions made right now by the Government of Iraq, and by the International Community. For better or for worse, the future generations of Iraqi citizens will face the consequences of those decisions. The International Organization for Migration has stood by the Iraqi people for the past 20 years. We are prepared to continue in solidarity as the country enters this final stage in its journey towards a peaceful and stable society."