After three years of conflict, hundreds of students in the Nineveh Plains return to their classrooms, eager to pick up where they left off.

Schools are back in session in Hamdaniyah, Nimrud, and other communities across the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, only weeks after these areas were recaptured from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Damaged classrooms at 20 schools have come back to life, opening their doors to hundreds of students keen on continuing their learning.

Through UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization, the rehabilitation of more than a dozen more schools is underway. After three years of disruption under ISIL, reclaiming learning spaces in Hamdaniyah and Nimrud sends a messages of hope to students as they get on with what they used to do — reading, writing, answering questions, and having fun in the classroom.

Al Thibyania Primary School in Nimrud suffered great damaged during ISIL occupation and has since been renovated with the help of UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization.

“We are very happy they provided us these renovations,” said Saad Nahidh Hamedy, Principal of the Al Thibyania Primary School in Nimrud. “On behalf of the other teachers we say thank you very much.”

Across the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, persecuted communities under the reign of ISIL have suffered tremendously, from Yazidi communities in western Nineveh to Christian, Shabak, Turkmen, and other minority communities in northern and southern Nineveh. UNDP is working day-and-night to accelerate their safe and dignified return.

UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization is helping the Government of Iraq and local authorities to restore electricity, water and sanitation systems, as well as hospitals and health centres across their homelands. UNDP has also begun assessments of thousands of damaged homes in towns like Bartela, an urgent priority for the communities.

It is part of UNDP’s broader effort to support the Government of Iraq to enable over 5.8 million Iraqis displaced by the conflict to return home. To this end, the Funding Facility is implementing more than 1,498 projects in Anbar, Salah al-Din, Nineveh, Diyala and Kirkuk Governorates. More than 2.6 million people have already returned, and efforts continue to support the return of the rest.

UNDP is approaching Stabilization in a new way. Most of the rehabilitation work is done in partnership with local businesses, giving local companies and workers the opportunity to rebuild their own community, whilst earning an income.

Maryam al Adhraa High School in Hamdaniyah, reopened on 7 October 2017 after the Funding Facility for Stabilization rehabilitated it installing a new electrical board — a critical addition that restored electric power to the school, connecting to the broader electrical grid that the Facility is rehabilitating throughout the Nineveh Plains.

“This brand new electrical board was a great gift” said Amal Azzu Petros, Principal of Maryam al Adhraa High School in Hamdaniyah. “We could not have reopened without it” she said.

Photos: UNDP-FFS/Claire Thomas

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