Creating jobs and preserving heritage in Iraq through new ILO-UNESCO-EU collaboration

© ILO
February 24, 2021 –

The International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Union (EU) have launched a new collaboration that will support internally displaced persons, Syrian refugees and host community members to access immediate, short-term decent employment in the cultural heritage sector in Erbil in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

The project will integrate employment-intensive approaches into the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Programme in Iraq, implemented by UNESCO under the “Supporting Livelihoods Through Cultural Heritage Development” project, which is supported by the European Union (EU) Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syria crisis.

The collaboration will help generate around one thousand job opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers who will be employed to safeguard and rehabilitate cultural heritage sites, including the Erbil Citadel – a World Heritage site.

Work will include cleaning and maintaining sites, including clearing away vegetation and rubble, landscaping, installing shaded areas, and rehabilitating access roads and parking areas. These initiatives will also contribute to preserving and developing cultural heritage sites, in efforts to support local economic development and sustainable reconstruction, particularly in the cultural heritage sector.

“This collaboration will ensure that Syrian and Iraqi Workers will have decent short-term jobs associated with labour rights according to the international and local standards. It will also contribute to sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products, including through the preservation, protection and conservation of all Cultural Heritage”, said Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Representative to Iraq.

In the longer-term, the collaboration aims to provide sustainable decent work opportunities and entrepreneurial activities for both Syrians and Iraqis. Workers will be able to access employment services provided by ILO-supported employment service centres in Iraq, such as career counseling, online job searches, and skills development.

“This collaboration will allow workers to access short-term immediate jobs, which adhere to the principles of decent work,” said Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator for Iraq. “This includes the provision of contracts and decent wages for workers, implementing Occupational Safety and Health measures, as well as providing opportunities to develop skills and access employment services that can link workers to more sustainable employment and livelihoods opportunities.”

For the ILO, these efforts are part of its key priorities in Iraq under the Decent Work Country Programme to promote decent work and increase employment opportunities. Its three main areas of work in the country are supporting private sector development and job creation, strengthening social protection and addressing child labour, and strengthening labour governance and social dialogue.

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