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Integrating Sport for Development and Peace in Iraq

On the occasion of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, UNFPA reiterates the right to access and participate in sport, which has been recognised in a number of international conventions as a human rights.

UNFPA recognises the importance of physical activities in empowering young men and women and strengthening their role in promoting peace and rebuilding their communities. To this end, UNFPA in Iraq supports five youth centres in refugee camps, which provide an opportunity to young men and women to regularly hold sports activities and attend other communal activities, workshops and trainings that strengthen their resilience and builds their confidence.

“Sport promotes cooperation and creativity, brings out positive energy in people, breaks deadlocks and develops innate talents and skills. The activities that I participate in at the youth centre have helped me make new friends and be more confident in who I am,” says Fatima, 27, from Dhi Qar Governorate, southern Iraq.

UNFPA and its partners use sport; football, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, and chess tournaments, as an entry point to promote peace-building and development in the camps and among communities. While sport can enable peacebuilding in a group, it also allows the youth and the community members to interact in a healthy and friendly environment, and to contribute to their mental wellbeing despite the difficult circumstances that they have endured.

“Participating in the sports activities creates a peaceful environment for us young people, as it teaches the values of teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game, which can be translated into our everyday lives”, explains Hussam Mohammad, 28, from Ninewa Govenorate, northern Iraq. 


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 Analyst,