On 1 November, the Mahmoodiya Primary School was officially reopened in the Sinjar district of the Nineveh Governorate in northern Iraq. More than 161 students will now have the opportunity to study at the newly built six-classroom school, which is equipped with all the necessary educational tools and furniture.
"I am truly delighted that the idea, which originated less than a year ago during a meeting with Nadia Murad in Vilnius, has become a reality, thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and the international non-governmental organization Nadia's Initiative. The fact that the school project has been implemented in such a short time shows how important education is to the local war-affected community. Even under the most difficult conditions, people came together to fulfill a modest but very meaningful and important dream - to send their children to school. I hope these new educational opportunities will contribute to a speedy return of Yazidis and other vulnerable communities in northern Iraq to normal life," said the Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.
"By helping children return to school in conflict-affected countries, we are facilitating a safer and more stable future for them and their families, enabling their parents to get back to work and to reintegrate into the local labor market. From this point of view, investments in education are especially meaningful," the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis said.
The idea to rebuild the school was born in 2021 during the meetings held between the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, President of Nadia's Initiative Nadia Murad, Lithuania's Prime Minister Šimonytė and the Foreign Minister Landsbergis, who discussed issues concerning the Yazidis, an ethno-religious community in Iraq, as well as access to basic services, education, illegal migration, and the security and stability of the region.
Taking into account the needs of the survivors of the Yazidi Genocide committed by the Islamic State in 2014, and Lithuania's development cooperation priorities for the Middle East, Lithuania allocated 150 000 euros for the reconstruction of the Mahmoodiya Primary School. The project was implemented by the international non-governmental organization Nadia's Initiative that helps to sustainably rebuild Sinjar, supports the Yazidi community and advocates globally for survivors of sexual violence.
"Nadia's Initiative is thrilled to collaborate with the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on such an important project. Restoring Sinjar's education sector improves the lives of returnees to the region and facilitates the safe return of those who are still internally displaced. It's our goal to ensure that Yazidis and other vulnerable communities in Iraq can access education," the Executive Director Abid Shamdeen said.
Together with the international community, Lithuania engages with people affected by armed conflicts, contributes to the promotion of education and to the protection of human rights, including the right to safety, especially of women and children.
In 2018-2022, 127 000 euros were allocated for another education project, "The Middle East Scholars Program," which was financed from the funds of the Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.
Photos: Nadia’s Initiative