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23 June 2021; Baghdad, Iraq - UNFPA Deputy Executive Director, Mr Ib Petersen, and UNFPA Regional Director for the Arab States, Dr Luay Shabaneh, concluded their five-day visit to Iraq on 22 June, after visiting Baghdad and Erbil. 

High-level meetings

In Baghdad, the delegation met with representatives of the United Nations agencies in Iraq, headed by the Deputy Secretary-General’s Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance, Ms Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladótti with whom they discussed the political environment affecting women’s rights and their role in families and society at large and the UN projects in Iraq as well as strengthened collaboration among agencies. 

The next day, they met with the President of the Republic, Dr Barham Salih, and the Speaker of the House, Mr Mohammed Al-Halbousi, respectively to emphasise the support for youth’s potential, for ending gender-based violence in Iraq and for the Population & Housing Census.

In Erbil, they were received by the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Mr Masrour Barzani, in attendance of the Minister of Planning, Dr Dara Rasheed and the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Mr Safeen Dizayee. The delegations talked about the cooperation between UNFPA and the Kurdistan Regional Government in the areas of population data, prevention of gender-based violence, and youth participation. 

Field visits

During their first days in Baghdad, Mr Petersen and Dr Shabaneh visited one of the UNFPA-supported women centres in Baghdad where they met with women and adolescents girls. The two officials were briefed on the activities the women centres offer to promote gender equality and women's empowerment to lead a transformative change in their communities through life skills activities and awareness sessions on women rights. They also met with young people where they discussed the needs and aspirations of youth in Iraq and the support to initiatives and programmes highlighting the youth agenda and the road to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

In Erbil, the Deputy Executive Director and the Regional Director visited two camps for internally displaced persons: Debaga and Bahirka camps, where they were brought up to speed on the services and activities offered to women and girls to help them build self-confidence, raise self-esteem and be able to communicate about their issues freely without judgement. They also toured the reproductive health clinics and were briefed by health workers on the challenges they faced while providing much-needed reproductive health services to the most vulnerable women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic and the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

On their last day, they visited the offices of the General-Directorate of Combatting Violence Against Women and the 119 hotline and attended the launch of the results of the population analysis in the Kurdistan Region. The event was attended by the Minister of Planning, Dr Dara Rasheed and Ministers from line ministries who focused on the importance of data and evidence-based policies.

The Assistant Secretary-General and the Regional Director left Iraq on 22 June heading to Amman, Jordan to complete Mr Petersen’s visit to the Arab States. 


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.

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