Yousef Ibrahim Sultan (35) fled with his mother, wife and their four children from the devastating conditions in Mosul and took refuge in Erbil governorate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). He could not find steady employment and worked as a casual labourer to provide for his family. With a monthly wage less than 200,000 IQD, Yousef and his family lived in a very small room and their living conditions were devastating. “My mother was very sick and I could not afford to take her to the hospital or send my children to school. We barely had enough money to feed the entire family”, he said.
Yousef is one of half a million people who fled their homes following the fall of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul in June 2014 due to fighting against the armed opposition groups belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). “ISIS burnt our house and took over all we had. Our clothes were the only belongings we brought to Erbil”, said Yousef who owned a successful car repair shop in Mosul. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) hosts approximately 925,950 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 249,815 Syrian refugees, stretching the current response capacity of host communities in the region and increasing competition for labour. Due to massive displacements, the KRI’s population increased by 28 percent over a short period, worsening the pre-existing pressures on the local economy and access to public services.
As part of Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme” (ICRRP), funded by the Government of Japan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting job placement and employability enhancement initiatives geared towards improvement of livelihoods of displaced populations in KRI, following the findings and recommendations of EMMA (Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis) conducted in January 2015.With the support from UNDP, the livelihoods project, implemented UNDP implementing partner is ensuring increased access to employment opportunities, alleviating tensions due to increased labour competition, as well as promoting social cohesion in conflict-affected area.
Empowered civil society is key to bringing about a sustainable community. Through the ICRRP, UNDP strengthens the role of civil society as development partners by supporting central and local authorities and CSOs to lead the crisis response, recognizing that they are critical to achieve long-term sustainability and resiliency.
Yousef is one of 200 displaced people –who have found permanent employment in KRI, ranging from construction sector to hospitality and service sector through a pilot emergency livelihoods project.
A father of four, Yousef works at a renowned auto repair center in Erbil close to his new home. Using the money he earned from his new job, Yousef were able to save some money for rainy days and rent a bigger house for his family, which significantly enhanced their living situation. ““With a 700 USD monthly salary, we can eat three times a day and my children can afford to go to school,” he said with a smile in his face.
Yousef finally found a permanent job that matched his skill set. “I now have opportunity to create a brighter future for me and my family. If my mother were still alive, she would be very happy to see that we are living a better life now,” he said.