Keiko Cornale, Head of Mission based in Erbil, is in charge of piloting Triangle Génération Humanitaire's programmes, mainly focused on child protection and education. She makes sure that the teams have the necessary means to carry out the actions on the ground, and transmits the necessary information to project funders and to the partners and institutions working with TGH.
Interview with Keiko Cornale - Head of Mission in Iraqi Kurdistan
Keiko Cornale, Head of Mission in Erbil – Iraqi Kurdistan
Photo : TGH ©
What are TGH’s actions in Iraqi Kurdistan?
In practical terms, what we call "regular" programmes, particularly in Erbil Governorate where we have been working with Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people since 2014. We work mainly in child protection and education, either through "cash" assistance to the most vulnerable families to cover children’s transport costs to school, or through various activities such as in the Bardarash area where our mobile teams travel by bus from place to place, providing psychosocial support for displaced children, as well as remedial courses and academic support.
Concurrently, due to the military offensive launched in Mosul in October 2016, we have developed an emergency component in IDP camps to carry out child protection and emergency education activities. As soon as they arrive in the IDP camps, we provide them psychological first aid to enable them to have a first emotional debriefing, and we give them the necessary information about the services available in the camp. Our social workers identify children at risk and unaccompanied or separated children. They can join the Child Friendly Space, which organizes daily recreational activities and provide psychosocial support. Thereby they gain confidence in their new environment and subsequently take part in non-formal education activities (remedial or literacy courses).
With the gradual liberation of Mosul, will the children be able to return to school?
It should be noted that we are talking here of children who have spent two or more years out of school, outside any educational system and recreational and playful environment. Today, the Iraqi Ministry of Education is willing to reopen schools. Classes resume, schools open in newly liberated areas, teachers are recruited. However, these children need a little help, extra support, to reintegrate formal education.
Emergency education supports this transition, so that children can be reintegrated both socially and educationally into the formal education system.
Awareness-raising session on Children’s Rights in Turcomas – Iraqi Kurdistan
Photo : TGH ©
TGH also participates in the reunification of families separated during their displacement. How does this process work?
For the reunification of unaccompanied or separated children, we work with the Camp Management team (which manages the whole camp), the Crisis Unit of the Iraqi government (State structure in charge of the crisis), and the various organizations specialized in child protection in Kurdistan (in and outside the camps). The first step is to get as much information as possible about the child, their home town or neighbourhood, their parents and the situation that led to the separation. This information gathering is achieved through discussions with the child but also with people who arrived at the same time and/ or from the same area. This allows us to trace the family and to try to contact tem. Then, several cases are possible.
Often, the separation took place during the displacement, and the family is in another camp. In this case, we contact the child protection focal points in the camps where the families are located, in order to prepare the reunification. Then we go through the Camp Management of both camps to organize the transfer. In other cases, the family may still be in Mosul. This takes more time, as special permits are required for reunification. After ensuring that this is in the best interests of the child, we are in constant contact with the Camp Management and the Crisis Unit who are part of the committee authorizing people to leave the camps. Conversely, when a family wants to come to the camp, the process is much simpler. Finally, if a part of the family who fled ISIS in 2014 is located elsewhere, in Erbil, Dohuk or Kirkuk for example, it is necessary to be sponsored to apply for reunification outside the camps. This takes longer, particularly due to security checks.
Of course, these processes take time. Overall, collaboration with the Camp Management, the Government Crisis Unit and other NGOs in the field allows us to succeed. By putting forward the needs of children to return to their families, we try to be a lever between these two bodies.