IOM Facilitates EU Visit for Officials from Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Posted: 
01/29/16
Themes: 
Capacity Building

Iraq - IOM facilitated a study visit this week for government officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) and the Bureau of Migration and Displacement (BMD) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The five-day study visit was organized through IOM’s MAGNET II Project, funded by the European Union Return Fund. This project aims to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of Iraqi nationals who have voluntarily returned from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom through vocational training and job placements in the KRI. Since April 2014 to date, the project has helped 71 beneficiaries to find jobs. Another 33 returnees have also benefited from training.  

In each of the three countries, the KRI government officials met with representatives from labour ministries and learnt about national and local employment policies and practices to improve opportunities for job seekers.

The KRI is currently facing an economic recession and increasing levels of unemployment due to multiple challenges. These include budget cuts, the human and financial cost of fighting ISIL, and hosting more than a million displaced Iraqis and nearly 250,000 Syrian refugees.

The delegation also met with immigration officials in the three host countries, highlighting the importance of sustainable reintegration packages for Iraqi nationals choosing to return home.

BMD General Director Shokr Yaseen said: “The MAGNET project is a good model for the sustainable reintegration of our compatriots and we urge the EU and participating EU member states to continue supporting MAGNET. In 2015 numerous Iraqis sold their possessions and risked or lost their lives to reach Europe. Many who made it have little hope of staying in Europe and hence we have witnessed a spike in returns in recent months. It is important that these people receive support with their reintegration.”

MoLSA Director Arif Hito added: “This week we learned a lot about policies and methods to improve the vocational skills and job opportunities of vulnerable target groups. In close collaboration with IOM and other partners, we are keen to put this new knowledge into practice in the KRI for the benefit of returnees and local communities.” 

IOM MAGNET II Project Manager, Nazanine Nozarian said: “Strengthening the links between Iraq and the EU is a concrete step to facilitate partnerships in the field of development and humanitarian assistance. IOM missions in participating host countries are committed to work together with EU member states, and Iraqi representatives to provide Iraqi nationals returning voluntarily with reintegration support - particularly as returns are increasing.”

IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said: “The MAGNET Project, managed by IOM France, provides essential reintegration assistance to Iraqi nationals returning to their home country, assisting them to engage in training, find employment and contribute to their communities. This study visit will strengthen links between Iraqi and EU officials, to share lessons learned in employment assistance and enhance opportunities for returnees. We look forward to continuing this collaboration.”

For further information please contact Nazanine Nozarian at IOM France, Tel. +33. 140 44 06 84, Email: nnozarian@iom.int. Or Sandra Black at IOM Iraq, Tel. +964 751 234 2550, Email: sblack@iom.int. Or visit www.magnet-project.eu.

KRI officials meet European counterparts. Photo: IOM 2016