"); NewWindow.document.close(); return false; } // end hiding from old browsers -->

IRAQ: Youth centre needs support to bring communities together - OCHA IRIN
Saturday 22 January 2005
Middle East
Latest News
Middle East
Democracy & Governance
Food Security
Gender Issues
Health & Nutrition
Human Rights
Natural Disasters
Peace & Security
RSS Feed
Africa Service
Asia Service
PlusNews Service
Service Français

IRAQ: Youth centre needs support to bring communities together

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

KIRKUK, 10 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Set up a year ago, a Save the Children-run youth centre in the northern city of Kirkuk is looking to expand its activities.

Established in a mixed Turkmen-Kurdish quarter on the city's eastern edge, the cultural centre started working out of an old Baathist youth club in September last year.

Catering to young people over the age of 14, it has a library, a sports hall and Internet room.

At any one time, staff say, between 70 and 200 people are attending courses it offers in computing, art and music.

"It is the only place of its kind in Kirkuk," said Asso Mohamed, who works in the city's central market. Mohamed is an accomplished player of the oud, the long-necked fretless lute played throughout the Middle East.

He now comes whenever he can for free lessons with the centre's resident teacher. "I'm learning songs I'd heard before but never been able to play," he said.

Heartened by the success of the centre, manager Suhad Abdullatif has a couple of new projects she wants to implement.

So far, the sporting facilities on offer have been weighted towards men. It's an imbalance that female users of the centre have commented on and one she hopes to remedy early next year with a gym for women.

"We have the space," she told IRIN, referring to a large room currently inhabited only by a boxer's punch-bag. "All we need is 3 million Iraqi dinars [US $2,000] to build three bathrooms and buy apparatus and mirrors for the wall."

When completed, the facilities will offer 40 women the opportunity to keep fit, 20 in the morning and 20 after lunch.
"There is a women's gym in Kirkuk, but it costs too much for most to be able to afford," explained Abdullatif.

From 12 December, the centre began hosting the first book fair Kirkuk has seen since liberation. Due to run for two months, the fair is based on one which took place in Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish city an hour and a half to the east.

"Kirkuk people are poor, and the idea of the fair was to try to sell books as cheaply as possible," said Abdullatif. "When he approached the city authorities to ask for a venue, they were unable to provide anything. So we offered him the use of our hall."

The programme manager for KSC's Kirkuk projects, Mustafa Ibrahim, knows all about the difficulties of dealing with the municipality in this ethnically-divided city. His greatest concern, though, is with keeping his staff at their jobs.

Already overburdened with civil servants before the war, Iraq has seen a massive increase in government jobs since. Understandably, since these positions offer a good salary, stability and perks such as interest-free loans, many Iraqis dream of transferring from the private sector.

"I've lost count of the number of people who've resigned since last year," said Ibrahim. "Replacing them is becoming increasingly difficult, particularly in a city like Kirkuk, where education levels are low and qualified people in low supply."

There is a silver lining even to this, though. "The heads of the music and art departments of Kirkuk College of Arts 'graduated' from us," said Ibrahim. "Though they've left us, they've taken our philosophy with them - it is far easier to collaborate with them than with their predecessors."


Other recent IRAQ reports:

Juvenile drug abuse on the rise,  20/Jan/05

Heavy security for election day,  19/Jan/05

Southerners expect peaceful poll,  17/Jan/05

Fallujah residents angry at city's devastation,  13/Jan/05

Interview with the vice-president of the Higher Independent Election Commission (HIEC), Farid Ayar,  12/Jan/05

Other recent Children reports:

MOZAMBIQUE: Starting to save HIV-positive children, 21/Jan/05

SUDAN: Polio vaccination campaign starts in SPLM/A areas, 18/Jan/05

SYRIA: New approach to children with disabilities, 18/Jan/05

SOUTH AFRICA: Physical growth of black kids yet to catch up, 18/Jan/05

UGANDA: Polio alert following reported cases in Sudan, 18/Jan/05

[Back] [Home Page]

Click to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about IRIN's Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to

The material contained on this Web site comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All graphics and Images on this site may not be re-produced without the express permission of the original owner. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005