Children documenting a group of other children painting. Another group dancing and singing. Others doing sport. These are pictures of children performing social and creative activities, facilitated by local and international NGOs, and taken by young photographers in three refugee camps in Iraq.
It should be known that one of ACTED’s main priorities in Iraq is to foster cross-cultural dialogue through enhanced communication between different communities, including refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and host community. In order to achieve its objectives, ACTED continues to promote social cohesion activities involving young people from vulnerable communities through sports tournaments, language clubs, cooking events, and other social activities in-and-out of camp settings across Iraq.
In June, in three refugee camps in Erbil governorate, ACTED provided children with cameras, tasking them with documenting activities that are available to them in these camps with the support of local and international partners. In doing so, ACTED and partners allowed children who live in displacement to document opportunities for fun, play and learning through their own eyes.
ACTED put together the pictures in and displayed each video at the Community Centre of each camp on World Refugee Day. This successful exhibition attracted the curiosity of community members of all ages, closed with the handover of diplomas to 200 children for their participation.
The goal of this activity was to enhance social cohesion by bringing children together as well as by showing them that their creativity and perspective matters. In collaboration with UNHCR, this activity was part of ACTED’s effort to raise awareness on issues affecting conflict-affected and displaced populations, including refugees living in and out of camp in Erbil governorate, as well as to inform vulnerable communities of their rights and of services available to them.
In Iraq and everywhere, ACTED puts at the centre of its programming, ensuring that vulnerable communities have access to correct and unbiased information and that their voices are being heard through Focus Group Discussions, youth clubs, awareness-raising activities, and Complaints Feedback Mechanisms both in and out-of-camp. ACTED’s longstanding experience using this approach shows that the communication of key information plays a crucial role not only for addressing communities’ needs and finding solutions to enhance access to their basic rights but also for enhancing social cohesion and cross-cultural dialogue. Using a community-based and participatory approach, ACTED strives to build resilience among different populations.
As of June 2018, nearly 68.5 million people remained displaced worldwide due to conflict, persecution and natural disasters. Almost 3 million of them are in Iraq. ACTED remains committed to supporting vulnerable refugee, internally displaced or host communities across the country.