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EU, UNESCO announce project to boost employment in Irbid, Mafraq

Meeting gathers representatives of local and international organisations involved with cultural heritage

By JT - Jul 22,2019 - Last updated at Jul 22,2019

Officials from Jordan, Iraq, the UN and the EU on Sunday pose for a photo at a gathering to celebrate a new project to boost employment while preserving heritage sites in both Jordan and Iraq (Photo courtesy of the EU)

AMMAN — The EU, UNESCO and other partners on Sunday gathered to celebrate collaborations forged around the “Support to livelihoods through cultural heritage development” project. 

The project focuses on creating short-term job opportunities through employment projects applied to safeguard cultural heritage in the northern districts of Jordan and Iraq, according to an EU statement. 

The project will be coordinated by the UNESCO Amman office and implemented in partnership with the International Labour Office (ILO), the UNESCO Iraq office and other partners over the next two years. 

The gathering brought together a number of officials from both Jordan and Iraq, including Tourism Minister Majd Shweikeh, EU Ambassador to Jordan Andrea Matteo Fontana, Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board Abdel Razzaq Arabiyat, UNESCO Representative to Jordan Costanza Farina, head of the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalisation Dara Yaqoobi and head of EU Cooperation for Yemen and Iraq Augusto Piccagli.

“Sustainable tourism is a key objective of this upcoming initiative. Our collective presence here today, as we gather to honour this partnership, signifies our ongoing collaboration, with a strong focus on continuity, sustainability and action,” Shweikeh said in the statement.

Ambassador Fontana added: “This project aims to improve self-reliance through access to decent employment opportunities for Syrians, Jordanians and Iraqis in the cultural heritage sector, through employment intensive schemes in two northern governorates of Jordan and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq."

On behalf of UNESCO, Farina shared: “This substantiates the notion that culture can serve as a source of resilience and a vector for socio-economic development”. 

“We are also very grateful to the Department of Antiquities for the strong and longstanding collaboration on this and other cultural heritage initiatives,” Farina said.

The EU Regional Trust Fund project will seek to engage Jordanian and Iraqi experts as well as Syrians and young people in the preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage sites for tourism purposes in the districts of Irbid and Mafraq, as well as in Iraq’s Erbil and Duhok regions. 

A steering committee co-coordinated by UNESCO will provide strategic guidance to further support the work, in partnership with relevant institutions including the ILO, the Institut Francais du Proche-Orient and the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology.

The event was also attended by Yazin Ayan, acting director general of the Department of Antiquities and Brendan Cassar, representing the UNESCO Iraq Office, according to the statement.

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