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­Baghdad, Iraq; 20 February 2019 – Women subjected to violence often look for a haven: the women shelters provide refuge to survivors of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence. In Iraq, UNFPA supports five women shelters across Iraq run and managed by the Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs in the Federal Government and in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

On 20 February, the First Lady of Iraq, HE Sarbagh Salih, the Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the representative of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Ali Al-Helou, the Political Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy, Mr Andrew Turner, the Director-General of the Women Empowerment Department, Dr Ibtisam Aziz, and the UNFPA Representative to Iraq, Dr Oluremi Sogunro, visited the shelter for women survivors of gender-based violence in Baghdad.

During the visit, they met with the survivors currently residing in the shelter who shared their stories, journeys, and heartbreaks. The three officials also discussed with the shelter management the challenges the survivors and staff come across.

Commenting on the visit, HE Salih called on the government, the international organisations and the civil society organisations to work together to put an end to violence against women across Iraq.

“There is an urgent need for the enactment of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, which will prevent and respond to domestic violence in Iraq. The UN will work with all parties concerned to get the bill adopted by the Council of Representatives,” said Ms Hennis-Plasschaert.

Discussing the dangers of gender-based violence on communities, Mr Turner said: “Domestic violence against women, children, or men threatens Iraq’s stability and economic development.  That is why it is a priority for Canada to work with the Government of Iraq, the United Nations, and UNFPA to help address the problem.”

“Every woman deserves to feel safe, secure, and empowered. The women shelters not only provide protection but help survivors build their lives again and become advocates for women’s right. Our goal at UNFPA is that, one day, gender-based violence will be eradicated and there will be no need for women shelters,” added Dr Sogunro.

The shelter, the first of its kind in Central and Southern part of the country, is located in Baghdad and consists of 10 bedrooms, one room for counselling, one room for psychosocial support and can accommodate up to 80 survivors.

UNFPA is able to support the five women shelters across Iraq thanks to generous contributions from the Government of Canada and the European Regional Development and Protection Programme for the Middle East (RDPP).


UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled

For more information or media inquiries please contact: Salwa Moussa, Communications Specialist,