Diyala's local government has been working to provide jobs for displaced people in the province as part of a joint project to improve the living conditions of families displaced by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).
Finding employment for displaced families is a "top priority", said Diyala provincial council organisations committee chairwoman Asmaa Hamid Kambash.
"We are implementing the largest project of its kind in Diyala for the employment of displaced people in the city of Baquba, with the direct assistance of government agencies and several international organisations," she told Diyaruna.
"We started the implementation of the project in mid-July, and it includes a wide range of employment programmes for displaced people, male and female alike, and for young and older unemployed people," she added.
"One of the programmes that we started, in co-operation with the Danish Refugee Council, was the employment of 280 displaced people for two months, at a daily rate of $12 per displaced person, in the cleaning of Khuraysan River in the city of Baquba," Kambash said.
"After the completion of this work, we will move towards the completion of other projects, like restoring and planting medians with trees or planting public parks," she said.
"There are simple jobs within the programme for older age groups, with work shifts of not more than five hours a day," Kambash noted.
Job training and loans
Diyala's local government also has launched a programme with the Ministries of Labour and Youth to teach displaced women and girls skills such as sewing, hairdressing and baking, Kambash said.
"The programme trains a batch of 25 displaced women every three months," she said, adding that it also provides financial support, such as easy-term loans, to women who want to open small business projects.
The loan amounts range from five million Iraqi dinars ($4,230) to 25 million dinars ($21,150), depending on the project requirements, she said.
Additional programmes are being undertaken with various UN agencies to involve residents in infrastructure reconstruction projects in liberated areas, she said, and to channel their energies into the rehabilitation of public facilities such as schools, hospitals and service departments.
"As a first step, we are now working to secure employment for about 11,000 displaced people living in Baquba," she said. "Gradually, we will increase the number of beneficiaries of the project."
The Diyala Department of Labour and Social Affairs "is ready to co-operate with all humanitarian organisations to improve conditions for displaced families and help their members get a proper job", director Humam al-Tamimi told Diyaruna.
"Our department seeks to enable the displaced to find steady sources of income through their involvement in programmes of training and professional development, in addition to providing them with soft operational loans and providing financial support for the poorest social groups," he said.
"Our efforts currently are focused on the inclusion of the displaced and poor families in the province, with financial aid by the social protection network," he said. "So far, we have included at least 35,000 families distributed throughout the districts and areas of Diyala."
"We are working on the inclusion of more families with the subsidies," he added.
Further assistance needed
Diyala "needs more support from the government to enhance the security and stability of the displaced and families returning to their areas of origin to raise their standard of living", said Iraqi MP Raad al-Dahlaki, who chairs the parliamentary committee for the internally displaced.
It is necessary to create jobs and sources of income for the displaced and returnees, he told Diyaruna, as well as providing humanitarian and social support to them "to contribute to the alleviation of their suffering".
He called on international organisations to increase their assistance in this area.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Hazim, 26, who was displaced by ISIL, said he was happy to finally be able to get a job through the Diyala employment project.
"I was unemployed, but now I work with many of the displaced in cleaning Khuraysan on a daily wage," he said. "I started making money and contributing to helping my family. I hope to work continuously and earn more money."