“Iraq: Youth and Coexistence” Forum Diyala Stop Underscores Iraqi Diversity’s Role in Building Future
Baqouba, Iraq, 25 March 2017 – The United Nations took its “Iraq: Youth and Coexistence” Forum to Diyala Governorate, hoping to enrich the discussions aimed at gauging the opinions of the young generation on reconciliation with experiences from an area that symbolizes diversity but one which has paid a heavy price from conflict and violence.
It is the fourth of a series of cross-country youth forums intended to give a voice to youth for their crucial role in charting the road to peaceful co-existence in a future Iraq. With these kind of fora, the young generation of Iraqis across different ethnic and sectarian backgrounds has the opportunity to deliberate post-conflict issues, engage on national reconciliation and voice their opinion.
A total of 68 youth in the age group of 18-35 from Diyala Governorate participated in the “Iraq: Youth and Coexistence” forum, which the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) organized in collaboration with the Iraqi Al-Amal Association.
The opening session was attended by Mr. Khidr Muslim Hafez, secretary-general of the Diyala Governorate Council representing the governor, some members of the Diyala Governorate Council, Mr. Jaafar al-Zarkoush, director-general the Education Directorate in Diyala, Ms. Hana Edwar, head of the Al-Amal Association, and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq for Political and Electoral Affairs, Mr. György Busztin.
Mr. Busztin noted in his address that the Diyala Governorate’s mix of various ethnic, sectarian and religious groups and the conflict it endured makes this stop all too important. He recalled that the UN has lost a staff member as a result of the violence in Diyala.
“This governorate has suffered immensely and has offered great and painful sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. Diyala knew how to vanquish terrorism, rivalry and hate. The role of the young in peaceful coexistence and national reconciliation gives this stop in the series of forums great importance because of the diversity of this governorate and its suffering as a result of terrorism and rivalry, as well as triumphing over it,” Mr. Busztin said.
The Diyala forum is the fourth of the cross-country forums. The first was launched in Basra on 28 January 2017 and brought together about 120 participants from the four southern governorates of Basra, Missan, Dhi Qar and Muthanna. The second followed in Erbil on 19 February with 135 participants from Ninewa Governorate. The third was held in Najaf on 18 March, with 115 participants from the Najaf, Karbala, Babel and Qadissiyah Governorates taking part. Other conferences are to follow in the Governorates of Suleimaniyah, Baghdad, Kirkuk and Salaheddin, culminating in an overarching national conference in Baghdad in May to be attended by representatives of the youth to incorporate recommendations from these forums in the decisions that support the process of reconciliation and coexistence.
As with the format for all the conferences, the participants in the Diyala forum broke up into working groups to deliberate and respond to questions about what they would like to see in a future Iraq and how they can contribute. At the end of the meeting, the participants debated their responses and adopted a set of recommendations.