New agreement in Iraq signals ‘a first and important step’ toward a better future

An agreement between Iraq’s Federal and the Kurdish Regional governments on Friday paves the way for reconstruction in the north of the country, in what the UN has called “a first and important step in the right direction”.

This article was published on 9 October 2020 by UN News. The original can be found here.

© UNICEF/Wathiq Khuzaie – The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMIexpressed hope that the new pact, on the status of northern Iraq’s Sinjar district in Ninewa, would pave the way for a better future.

An uphill battle

In 2104, ISIL terrorist fighters took control of significant swathes of the north, committing atrocity crimes including genocidal acts against the Yazidi minority, centred around their centuries-old ancestral home of Sinjar.

Nearly 3,000 kidnapped women and girls are still missing after many were trafficked and enslaved in other parts of former ISIL territory. Yazidi rights campaigner and UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad, told the Security Council  in August that 100,000 of her people had now returned to the Sinjar area. Since the military defeat of ISIL, discord over security arrangements, public services, and the lack of a unified administration, have plagued victims and survivors.


Turning a page

The UN Special Representative for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, shared her hope on Friday that the agreement would usher in “a new chapter for Sinjar, one in which the interests of the people of Sinjar come first”, while also helping “displaced people to return to their homes, accelerate reconstruction and improve public service delivery”.

However, the UN official cautioned that “for that to happen, stable governance and security structures are urgently needed”.

She tweeted that it was “high time” to reach out to the people of Sinjar, to “make them feel that they are, indeed, part of the broader community”.

‘Against all odds’

The Special Representative emphasized that the UN would continue to help normalize the situation in the district.

“Against all odds and in their darkest hour, the people of Sinjar remained determined to build a better future”, upheld Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert. “May that future begin today”.

Further support welcome

In a statement, Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, thanked the UN Special Representative for her “support and personal involvement in this process”.

“We would welcome further support from the international community for Sinjar, including assistance in repairing critical infrastructure, to help rebuild the many lives destroyed” by ISIL, he continued.

Mr. Barzani called the agreement the result of “months of hard work and negotiations” between Erbil and Baghdad, that will “help to allow the people of Sinjar, including Yazidis and others who suffered so appallingly…to return to their ancestral homes in safety and with dignity”.

“The normalization of Sinjar will ensure that its people can determine their own future”, he upheld.