UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
IRAQ: Conference gives local NGOs a platform
BAGHDAD, 10 March 2005 (IRIN) - Local NGOs in Iraq recently took part in the second conference held in the country on reconstruction ideas, agriculture, water resources and security.
The event gave NGOs a chance to meet with the few international counterparts left in Iraq, due to insecurity, and exchange information on reconstruction and programme ideas.
The conference, which took place in the city of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, was hosted by Iraqi officials from four provinces; Salah al-Din, Diyala, Kirkuk and Sulymaniyah, along with 30 Iraqi NGOs and some international NGOs such as Mercy Hand and government institutions such as the US Institute of Peace and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
"This conference is periodically held every six months where Iraqi NGOs from the north, middle and south gather to share in the reconstruction of the country through acquaintance of other countries progressing in different fields such as agriculture, security and even administration matters," Maj. Loyed Navarro from the 24th Infantry Division of the US army told IRIN.
The meeting ended with very important results, according to the organisers, exchanging experiences between local and international NGOs in the field of reconstruction and opening the way for local NGOs to share ideas.
"We discussed a new axis in this conference along with the fixed ones such as youth development, education. The role of Iraqi NGOs in writing the new constitution, in evaluation of the current elections and official corruption," Basem al-Rubaihe, the director of the Council of Legal Defence Care, an Iraqi NGO, told IRIN in Baghdad.
"We also presented very useful reports about agriculture in Iraq and how it is possible to invest in our natural resources. These reports received great attention from the US participants, who attended our conference," al-Rubaihe added.
The new issue of NGOs being involved in writing the new Iraqi constitution proved of great interest to many, including the displacement and migration ministry.
"We have good relationships with many of these local NGOs who care about human rights, which is very important for the new Iraqi constitution," Amer Hamed, from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, told IRIN.
"We are concerned about the migrants' rights and they should be included in the new constitution and we will relay the thoughts of the NGOs to our ministry," he continued.
The reconstruction conference, called "New Dawn" also gave a chance for smaller Iraqi NGOs, like the al-Rahma organisation, to gain advice in order to develop strategies on reconstruction programmes.
"We learned from the experience of international NGOs in doing workshops or conferences in the field of reconstruction and [received] advice on rebuilding our structure," Ahmed Abed from al-Rahma told IRIN.
"We also learn many useful things about NGOs working in Iraq through these conferences, finding out how they can cooperate with each other or with the government to rebuild our country," he added.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Education, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Gender Issues, (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Health & Nutrition, (IRIN) Human Rights, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs
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