Once an ISIL Prison, today a safe space for young people; MOYS, UNFPA inaugurate Ramadi Youth Centre
The Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Governorate of Anbar and UNFPA re-opened the Ramadi Youth Safe Space on 25 December.
The Youth Safe Space serves as a place for girls and boys to receive life and leadership skills, peacebuilding and edutainment activities.
Originally this building was a House of Youth under the Ministry of Youth and Sports management. It was a special place for young people of Anbar and the community to build friendships and learn new skills in music, arts, science.
Back in 2014, the place was used as a prison by the Islamic States in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) during the war. The building was severely damaged.
After the liberation of the territories, young people in Anbar decided to bring the building back to its original purpose and make it a youth-friendly place. In 2018, UNFPA helped the youth rehabilitate two rooms for peace-building activities.
As the demand for youth services grew among communities and youth, UNFPA with support from Canada, the Governor of Anbar and UIMS, completed the rehabilitation of the Youth Safe Space. Young volunteers were the ones who led the process and made decisions about how to make the place more accessible for all young people in the surrounding communities, including the most vulnerable.
Once a space that reminded people of sorrow and pain, today is a place of hope and strength.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Anbar, Mr Ali Farhan Al-Dulaimi, thanked UNFPA for the continuous support and investment in the young people in Anbar.
Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative in Iraq, highlighted the importance of empowering young people and engaging them in community life. She said:
"I am very proud of the young volunteers who had a dream and made it a reality. Thanks to their determination and the support they received from UNFPA, Canada, the Anbar Directorate of Youth and Sports, the Governor of Anbar, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, this centre became a welcoming and truly youth-friendly space."
The opening ceremony was attended by the Anbar Governor, the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Iraq, Salem Al-Zamanan, representatives of the Ministry of Youth & Sport, the Anbar Directorate of Youth and Sports, the UNFPA Representative, and representatives of the civil society and young people.