With UNICEF’s support, ACTED’s community-led approach to child protection in Qushtapa camp, Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is broadening academic and recreational opportunities for displaced children.
Since 2014, ACTED has been providing child protection services to Syrian refugees in Qushtapa camp in Erbil governorate. From within its Child and Youth Community Centres, ACTED provides a range of educational, recreational and awareness raising activities designed to contribute to the sustained resilience of children living both in and out of the camp.
This UNICEF-sponsored project helps foster community ‘buy-in’ through encouraging residents to take part in daily ‘Community Volunteer Hour.’ Forty-eight adult camp residents currently participate through teaching school support classes in archaeology, literacy, Arabic, English, biology to the children and adolescents residing in the camp.
These volunteers also help facilitate a range of sport and arts activities which provide a vital outlet for children, many of whom have experienced hardships through war and displacement.
Prior to commencing in their volunteering roles, ACTED Child Protection Teams deliver trainings for camp residents on Child Friendly Spaces/Youth Friendly Spaces (CFS/YFS) Purposes and Principles, Child Protection in Emergencies, Planning Activities, Facilitation Skills, Classroom Management, Confidentiality, Inclusion of Children with Disabilities, and Psychological First Aid.
Such trainings contribute both to the professional development of volunteers, and also to ensuring children and youth receive quality support.
Adan, one of the forty-eight camp volunteers, said:
“The residents of the camp now understand how the Child Friendly Spaces provide both a safe place for children to spend their time and a great way for us to discover which activities are most appropriate for them. It also helps the members of the camp community to get used to running the CFS. The people quickly understood that despite the challenges, it was our responsibility to take care of the children and focus on their well-being and development.”
ACTED prioritizes self-reliance and decision-making agency among camp residents as a means of both improving camp conditions and ensuring the continuation of relevant, high-impact child protection support services after the management of such camps transitions into the hands of local actors.