Halabja Summer of Peace & Non-Violence: A Success Story

Halabja Summer of Peace & Non Violence works to change the way Kurds and Arabs relate to and engage with one another, fostering an environment where peaceful co-existance and mutual cooperation can thrive. 

Wadi’s partner organization in Halabja; NWE Organization for Protecting Environment and Women’s Rights has concluded their ‘Halabja Summer of Peace and Non-Violence 2018’. The project ran from June-September 2018 and held classes for locals, IDPs and refugees, for women and children.  The project successfully brought adults and children together to participate in art, music, english and yoga classes!

There were many highlights of the summer: from morning exercises together, to learning yoga, and drawing, seminars on protecting the environment, an awards ceremony for completing an english course, an exhibition of the art made over the summer,  and finally a big picnic celebrating  all the children and their achievements.  Here we share some pictures of the summers succeses:

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Background: This program continues the spirit of the ‘Halabja Summer of Peace’ campaign, which was launched by NWE organization in 2015 with the aim of promoting mutual living and coexistence between locals and Iraqi IDPs and Syrian refugees in Halabja. The refugee situation in Halabja is somewhat complicated. While the Syrian (mainly Kurdish) refugees fleeing the civil war have mostly been welcomed warmly, the Arabs who have arrived from central Iraq are met with suspicion. Currently Kurdish nationalism is strong and years of suppression under the Arab nationalist regime of Saddam Hussein have not been forgotten. Especially in Halabja,where during the Anfal campaign in 1988, the Kurdish population was targeted by sarin and mustard gas attacks, between 3,200 and 5,000 were killed or otherwise sustained lifelong injuries and illnesses.

This year NWE organization chose to join Wadi’s ‘No to Violence’ campaign and include its aims of ending violence against children in schools and the home, in their summer programs. Violence against children is a serious, systemic problem and while the violence can take many forms, from beatings and spankings, to shouting, and bullying, the reasons behind it are often similar; it is seen as the only effective way to command respect or authority from children.