DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE launches major peacebuilding project in Iraq

TORONTO / January 17, 2006DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is launching a major initiative to promote peace in Iraq to complement an ongoing aid program that started in November 2003.

Supported by a $1.7 million grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the three-year project will, among other things, create links between Iraqi youth from different cultural communities and help non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community groups pursue peace.

The project will:

  • train 15 NGOs in conflict resolution procedures, management techniques and social development strategies;
  • support democracy-building efforts throughout the country, and;
  • help young people promote peace in the region by (i) establishing a dialogue among youth inside Iraq and (ii) creating regional peace networks between Iraqi youth and young people in neighbouring countries, particularly Lebanon.

Iraqi NGOs and community groups are frequently asked to help people face the everyday challenges of living in the war-torn country, and to take leadership roles in national reconciliation and peacebuilding.

With the proper tools at their disposal, these groups can play a crucial role in Iraqs social and economic development, particularly as regards helping young people and women assume a meaningful role in society.

By strengthening Iraqi civil society, the DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE program will play an important role in the reconstruction and democratization process in Iraq and in neighbouring countries.

Approximately 100 Iraqis will receive intensive training in peacebuilding methods. They, in turn, will share their expertise with colleagues, peace organizations, activists and others, thereby multiplying the programs impact throughout the region. The project is being run jointly with The Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, a respected, Beirut-based, Arab NGO on the cutting-edge of Middle East peace promotion.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE has sponsored 18 emergency, reconstruction and nation-building projects in Iraq during the past three years, supported by $2 million in donations from Canadians.

For example, damaged hospitals have been repaired and equipped to handle basic medical needs for larger numbers of people, and additional emergency care is being provided in areas facing attacks by insurgents. Iraqi NGOs trained by DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE have also been active in promoting human rights safeguards, particularly for women, in the new Iraqi constitution.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada and the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis. It works with people of all faiths to fight poverty, suffering and injustice through community development programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Last year the organization provided $18 million for 309 long-term development projects and 72 emergency aid projects in the Global South. Here at home DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE promotes awareness of the causes of poverty and underdevelopment through education and action programs from coast to coast