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Human Rights |

New Iraq campaign helps the poor displaced by ISIL

By Khalid al-Taie

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An Iraqi government employee helps a family register to receive services under the Social Welfare Network. [Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs]

Half a million Iraqi families living below the poverty line, particularly those affected by terrorism, are set to benefit from an Iraqi Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs campaign that is helping them register for government assistance.

"The Network Comes to You" campaign seeks to track down severely impoverished families who are eligible for a monthly government stipend and make sure they are registered in the Social Welfare Network database.

The campaign will give precedence to Iraqis who have been displaced by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) and those who have returned to areas liberated from the group, ministry officials told Mawtani.

The project aims to provide a source of income for hundreds of thousands of the poorest families and those affected by "terrorist operations and displacement", said ministry spokesman Ammar Munim.

Ministry personnel will locate eligible families and register their information in the Social Welfare Network, Munim told Mawtani.

"We have field teams for state-wide social surveying that scour displacement camps and liberated, remote and impoverished areas in search of eligible cases for government support and care, based on a poverty map created by the Planning Ministry," he said.

The family of Hussein Jumaa, 48, returned to the town of Baladruz in Diyala province after being displaced by ISIL and is eligible to receive financial support.

Jumaa told Mawtani the money he is slated to receive will help him care for his older son, 16-year-old Falah, who suffers from a mental disability.

The family, which also includes Jumaa's wife and two other sons, Ali, 14, and Murtada, 10, suffered "harsh living conditions as result of our displacement from our town after it was taken by the terrorists", he said.

"After we returned, our suffering continued," he added. "I currently do not have work and we all are living in one small room that I have restored in my home, which was destroyed by ISIL. I hope our situation will improve soon".

"We continue to offer many services to displaced citizens and those who have returned from displacement," spokesman Munim said, adding that these include vocational training courses, exemption from course admission terms and easy-term small business loans.

The ministry seeks to lend a hand to all victims of terrorism, he said.

"Around 1,500 Yazidi women who have survived ISIL's savagery and oppression have been entered to the social protection programme and provided smart cards to be able to receive their due funds with flexibility and ease," Munim explained.

A range of social services

Per Law No. 11 of 2014 on Social Protection, those eligible for support receive monthly stipends of 105,000 Iraqi dinars ($90) per person and 420,000 dinars ($360) per family of four or more members.

The Planning Ministry is "co-ordinating its work with the Labour Ministry with regard to providing social protection salaries to [eligible] families below the poverty line", ministry spokesman Abdul Zahra al-Hindawi told Mawtani.

"Our work includes validating and registering eligible citizens' information in a special electronic database," he said, which enables them to take advantage of the Social Welfare Network and receive the funds to which they are entitled.

The campaign's main goal is to "alleviate the poverty problem, especially among displaced families that have been heavily affected by terrorism and social groups that can be described as vulnerable", al-Hindawi said.

"Our ministry seeks to improve these families' living conditions and meet their basic needs," he added.

The Planning Ministry is working to rehabilitate public services in liberated areas by preparing plans and reconstruction projects, drawing up development strategies to revitalise resources and help the local population achieve stability.

"Our survey teams have conducted field visits to many families suffering from extreme poverty to find out their living conditions and register their information," Diyala labour and social affairs department head Himam al-Tamimi told Mawtani.

"We are working to enter 80,000 families [into the database] in Diyala, including families who have returned to liberated areas such as northern al-Miqdadiya, al-Saadia, Qartaba, Sharwin, al-Azim and Baladruz ," he said.

"The surveys have helped exclude people who are not eligible and reroute aid funds to the poorest, most affected groups, giving them the ability to cope with life's difficulties," al-Tamimi added.

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