Photo by Qayssar Rewlay

Photo by Qayssar Rewlay

By Osamah Golpy, June 30, 2015, published in Rudaw

HALABJA, Halabja province – A new peace organization in Halabja is overcoming linguistic differences to promote tolerance and cultural exchange between local residents and the refugee communities that have flooded the area.

The NWE, or “New” in Kurdish, organization, which advocates for human rights and the environment, recently launched the Halabja Summer of Peace and Coexistence campaign to act as a bridge between local Kurds and the mostly Arab arrivals.

In a recent event, NWE brought together 24 Iraqi women, 18 Syrian women and 10-15 Halabjans to exchang skills and unique experiences.

The first hurdle was how to speak to each other. Halabja people speak Sorani Kurdish, Syrian refugees speak Kurmanci Kurdish and Syrian Arabic, and Iraqi  IDPs speak Iraqi Arabic.

NWE used the challenge as an opportunity, offering the group classes to learn Kurdish and Arabic.

The parliament of the Kurdistan region declared Halabja the capital of peace in September 2014 for its sacrifices for the Kurdish cause, namely the chemical attack at the hands of the Iraqi regime in 1988.

The NEW organization will offer participants language classes, crafts, and vocational courses during the three-month campaign. Some 17 Iraqi and Syrian children also receive English courses.

Read the full article here.