Assistance to Minorities
ASSISTANCE TO ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS MINORITIES
Preserving and safeguarding Iraq’s heritage of social and religious diversity is vital to maintaining the country’s commitment to a robust and inclusive democracy. Ethnic and religious minorities are an integral part of Iraqi society and culture, and include Armenian and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, Mandeans, Shabaks, Turkomans, and Yazidis. USAID works with elected officials, community leaders and local NGOs throughout Iraq to improve living conditions and economic opportunities, and promote greater participation in government among ethnic and religious minorities. USAID additionally provides humanitarian assistance to these groups.
The USAID Community Action Program III (CAP III) works at the grassroots level to foster citizen involvement and assist local communities to identify their priorities, develop local solutions, and use their skills to mobilize their resources to meet community priorities and local development needs. In Ninewa and Kirkuk provinces, the CAP III program works with minority communities to build additions to schools, install new water lines and electrical grids, and create public spaces. CAP has also provided apprenticeships in these communities to help members gain the skills needed to sustain their development. Examples of assistance include the expansion of electricity grids and potable water supplies in Hamdaniya, Makhmur and Tal Keif districts of Ninawa province.
USAID’s Iraq Access to Justice Program is a three-year activity that focuses on improving access to Iraq’s legal system for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. The program promotes greater awareness of the rights afforded to vulnerable populations, including ethnic and religious minorities, and work with Iraq’s legal professionals to increase their capacity to defend and promote these rights. The program strives to improve governance processes for Iraq’s vulnerable populations by improving their access to government services and legal remedies.
USAID’s Private Sector Development Program (Tijara) has been working to fill a critical gap in the private sector – access to finance. USAID-Tijara, under its Iraq Vulnerable Group Support (IVGS) Initiative, assists minority and disadvantaged business owners who currently have difficulty borrowing money. The IVGS loan program is expected to benefit over 2,000 families. USAID-Tijara reached formal agreement with The Iraqi Company for Financing SMEs (ICF-SME) and three microfinance institutions to provide credit financing to private, minority-owned businesses. Small and medium enterprise loans offered under the IVGS Initiative range between ID six million ($5,000) and ID 30 million ($25,000). The Iraqi Company for Financing SMEs will provide capital support through private banks in the geographical areas where minority groups are located (Ninewa, Salah Ad Din, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Dahuk, Sulaymaniya, Erbil). So far, 560 borrowers from Ninawa and Dohuk received a total of $1.84 million, with individual loans averaging $3,300.
USAID’s Agribusiness Program (Inma) is working to increase the competitiveness and profitability of the Iraqi agricultural sector by raising productivity and lowering costs. It focuses on developing Iraq’s private agribusinesses. USAID/Inma connects farmers to markets, increases the competitiveness of Iraqi agribusinesses, and facilitates domestic and foreign agricultural partnerships. USAID/Inma provides technical support to the Al-Zaytoon Olive Association located in Bashiqa, Ninawa, to improve olive production and olive oil processing. The Association produces table olives and oil that are sold primarily in the local markets. With USAID’s funding totaling $700,000 and technical assistance, Al-Zaytoon has improved processing practices and their products have become available in high value retail markets such is European retailer Carrefour. In the last quarter, USAID-Inma provided 125 sheep to the Chaldean Order of Saint Hormizd Monastery Orphanage in Ninewa for training in animal husbandry and animal management.
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