Arab Youth Climate Movement

Written by Karzan Fadhil. The Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) Workshop was a seven-day workshop organized for the first time in Cairo, Egypt at the Wadi Environmental Science Centre. It was organized by IndyAct partnered with 350, GCCA, DEMENA, and CAN. The aim of the workshop was to empower participants to be influential climate movement leaders in the Arab region and to build their capacities by teaching them new strategies to effectively involve in the climate movements. At the workshop, we learned how to both assemble local grassroots movements and raise awareness of the local residents about climate change and its devastating impacts in their countries.
AYCM outsideIt was a selective workshop that 20 climate leaders were accepted out of a pool of 500 applicants in the Middle East and Northern Africa based on their extensive experience in the environment and climate change movements. Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) was launched by the 20 climate leaders prior to the UNFCCC COP18 Doha negotiations, and it was established to create a wide movement to solve climate change crisis throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
During the workshop there were many knowledgeable facilitators from different countries,
 such as U.S, UK, Lebanon, and including Egypt who are strongly engaged in the climate
 environmental movements. Also, it is worth mentioning that diversity was one of the strengths of the workshop that most of the environmental activists and climate leaders had come from different countries, such as Iraq, UAE, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritania, Algeria, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, and Bahrain.
Karzan Fadhil in front of the Pyramids in EgyptAlthough many people in Iraq applied to the workshop, I was the only candidate chosen to
 attend. I participated as a student at The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) and as a Development Club member. Eventually, Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) was launched and the participants were selected as the National Coordinators of (AYCM) for their countries, and the workshop culminated with giving the participants certificates for their accomplishment to continue their role as the National Coordinators in their countries. Now my role as the National Coordinator of AYCM for Iraq is to bring youths together from different parts of Iraq and establish AYCM Iraq, which will take a powerful and a crucial role in the climate movements and mobilizing communities in the Arab region and outside, so those people who are interested in working and collaborating with AYCM are more than welcome to join us by filling out the online application.
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Bozo the Bear and Animal Trafficking in Iraqi Kurdistan

Written by Tebeen Muhamad. From the beginning of life, God has created various creatures, most of which are wild animals. Human beings have categorized them according to their way of living and species. Wild animals, as we can see from the word “wild,” which means “living or growing in natural conditions; not kept in a house or on a farm” (Oxford Dictionary), are beasts that have to be in nature and away from people in order to live wildly. Among the carnivores, we can find a large group of mammals: bears.

Bozo, a small, charming two-and-a-half-month-old Syrian Brown Bear was found by filmmaker, San Saravan, a month ago on the streets of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. The origins of Bozo aren’t clear. Bozo was driven to Sulaimani by car from Duhok, although the whereabouts of his parents are unknown. San stumbled upon the young bear tied to a residence in the Sarchinar district of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. Disgusted by the small cage and worried about Bozo’s health, San bought the bear in an attempt to prevent additional harm from befalling Bozo. People surmise his family was killed during the attacks to Kurdistan, whereas others argue that his family has brought to Syria as he is a Syrian bear.

Although I’m sure that San meant the best for Bozo, was buying an endangered animal the right choice? If I want to stop animal trafficking, should I purchased trafficked animals? I contend that purchasing trafficked animals will encourage the traffickers to continue business as usual. If we really want to minimize the number of Bozos in Iraq, we should advocate for strict anti-trafficking laws and we should report those that sell and buy endangered animals.

Although finding Bozo’s family is one of the best solutions that we, people having cared about animals and having had sympathy, should do to save Bozo, we have to keep him alive until finding his family. The question is, how can we keep him alive?

Because Bozo is a bear like the other bears around the world, keeping him in a small confined cage might cause him to die. Bears are wild animals, which require hills, forests, mountains and the abundance of nature to thrive. Consequently, the more Bozo is kept in a cramped urban environment, the more we would be responsible for what happens to him.

Many people have been voluntarily working to find solutions and help Bozo; however, nothing, unfortunately, has been found so far. Kurdistan, where there are habitats for diverse animals, has many mountain ranges, but these natural sources have to be protected by both the government and the people. Thus, precious animals like bears cannot randomly be taken to one of the mountains since wild animals might be harmful if people try to hunt them.

“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite and to act so is immoral” (Leo Tolstoy)

Kurdistan is in the process of development, which means everything is developing including the substandard zoos, which don’t provide adequate housing, food or care for the animals. Yet, the more Kurdistan government abolish “animal hunting,” the more animals, like Bozo would survive.

To conclude, Bozo is a bear and an example of an animal that needs help. Bozo’s plight is not unique but he is simply one data point on an issue of growing concern both nationally and around the world.

Save the Marshes and the Tigris River

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Karzan Fadhil. July 14, 2012. Save the Marshes and the Tigris River was an inaugural conference held by the Civil Development Organization (CDO) to raise awareness of local residents about the dams that have been constructed on the borders between Iran-Iraq and Turkey-Iraq. The conference was held after a long time of exceeding the international laws of natural resources rights and water laws by Turkey. Many non-governmental organizations (NGO)s attended the conference and showed their concern about the dams, especially the Iliso dam, which is a project being built by Turkey on the Tigris River without any convention signed by Iraq or Turkey. If the Ilisu Dam is constructed, it will inundate the town of Hasankeyf, which is an ancient town rich with its history, including its villages and heritage that have existed for centuries.

Now, due to the Ilisu Dam the entire region is at risk of being submerged with the completion of the project. One thing that is worth mentioning is that European countries have stopped reinforcing the project since 2008 due to the disadvantages and the adverse effects of the project on Iraq and the villages where the dam is built, but some of the Middle Eastern countries that Iraq calls them “fraternal countries” or “neighboring countries” underpin the project of the Iliso dam and show support for it.

During the Conference, Dr. Azam Alwash, the director of Nature Iraq, gave a presentation about the dams and the devastating effects they have on Iraq and the nearby regions. He stated that if the Iliso dam is finished, farmers in Iraq will starve and most of the agricultural lands in Iraq will dry up. Subsequently, the dams that have been constructed by Iran on the rivers that flow down the mountains in Iraq were discussed. Furthermore, Iran has constructed nine dams on the rivers flowing through the regions of Iraq, so since Iran built the dams, the water of the rivers has decreased dramatically, and most of the rivers in Iraq have been dry, including the agricultural lands nearby the rivers. Consequently, at the end of the conference, the members of the NGOs decided to take all the necessary actions and preliminary steps to induce the international organizations to stop Turkey from building the Iliso dam.

The Ilisu Dam


The Ilisu Dam is a project planned to be constructed on the Tigris River in Turkey. It’s expected to be completed by 2015. Since its inception, there have been many controversies about this project internationally; constructing the Ilisu Dam has reverberated among people adversely due to its disadvantages and its adverse effects on nature, environment, and preserving heritage. If the Ilisu Dam is finished, it will inundate the town of Hasankeyf, which is an ancient town rich with its history, including its villages and heritage that have existed for centuries. Now, due to the Ilisu Dam the entire region is at risk of being submerged with the completion of the project. Since 2008, the project hasn’t been reinforced internationally due to its devastating results and effects on the region by the end of the completion of the project. In addition, people in the region where the dam is built are obliged to evacuate their places and leave for other cities.

Consequently, environmental and human rights groups around the world have sought to stop the process of building the dam, and there has been much pressure put to halt the project, but the Turkish government persists in completing the dam. Nowadays, there have been many divergent campaigns to urge the international organizations to be involved in standing against constructing the Ilisu Dam, and many people have signed against constructing the dam because it is a huge threat to both people who live in those areas where the dam is constructed and the ancient history and heritage that have existed for centuries.

Click on the link to learn about a change.org petition to halt its construction: Save World Heritage on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia

A Global Movement Towards a Better Future

350.org is a website that is trying to make a change towards the best. It is trying to create a solution for the entire world for having a better environment! It is creating a global movement to solve the climate crisis. The fuel that the world is burning is causing huge climate problems, and people around the globe are living with what their own hands have done. As development club members we’re also trying our best to spread awareness among people about the unhealthy environment that we’re all living in.

So, 350.org created a global awareness day on the 5th of May. The idea was that each country should take pictures demonstrating how the world has changed over the years, and the pictures should contain a dot, so on May 5th all of the dots can be connected. The idea was splendid, and our Development club was part of that action.

A week before May 5th, our club had a meeting in Mr. Kevin’s classroom. We were brainstorming through the whole session. We were divided into several groups so we could get as many ideas as possible. Each group had more than five ideas for the pictures. Some of them were rather impossible to make, still the ideas themselves were really creative. We thought of every change that is happening to Kurdistan because of the climate change, and we were trying to reflect them through the pictures. We actually discovered that the environmental effects that we witnessed over our life time are rather tremendous! Sandstorms, less rain, lower water levels, winter is much shorter, and many many more! We wanted to demonstrate most of our ideas into meaningful pictures, so people around the world would understand that a simple change can affect the entire globe.

On May 5th our club members gathered at our university, and even students who were not members in the club joined us. We started to take many great pictures, and the whole thing was a blast; we had more fun than we could have ever imagined. When we saw our picture on the 350.org website, we were all proud of what we did.

The Green Music and Arts Festival in Sulaimani, Iraq

Although the Green Music and Arts Festival was on the 20th of April, our work in the Development Club started weeks before that. We began by sharing what each of us had in mind for the games that we needed to build for the festival. Our ideas had to be simple but at the same time they had to be creative.

We all had amazing ideas. The games had to be made from recycled materials to fit with the environmental theme, so we looked around campus for spare wood, cardboard, and plastic. We built the games, painted them and the results were perfect. Mr. Kevin practiced some songs with his Guitar Club students and they translated some verses of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon into Kurdish.

On the festival’s day, we started the preparations early in the morning, and it was lots of fun to prepare for it. We even played some games during the preparations. Azadi Park, where the festival was held, was a really beautiful place, and it was an ideal spot for students and teachers alike to gather and enjoy their time.

There were three hosts for the festival including myself, and the performances were presented by the hosts in English, Kurdish, and Arabic to enhance the ability of the audience to culturally relate to the performances and make a sense of cultural unity among the people. During the festival there was an elocution contest among the students of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. They each presented the same environmentally themed Kurdish poem that was translated into English. It was a really creative event overall, and it showed the students’ talents from different aspects.

One of the things I really enjoyed was drawing the American, Kurdish, and Iraqi flags on children’s faces and on adult’s faces too. It highlighted the cultural unity that brought us all together for one cause: helping our environment.

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Visit to Hiwa Hospital

Written by Karzan Fadhil

Hiwa hospital is a cancer patients hospital established in Iraq-Sulaimani, which includes over four hundred children diagnosed with cancer. The hospital does not only include Kurdish children, but also it has accepted various children from different parts of Iraq with open arms. Today, a group of students from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) organized a visit to the hospital, and gave the children many gifts. The trip was organized by Jwan Farhad, a student in the undergraduate program at AUIS. During the visit the  students met the children and closely talked with them to make them happy. For most of the students it was the first time to visit the hospital and see their hard circumstance, but ultimately during their discussions with the children’s mothers their eyes filled with tears, and they sympathized with children’s parents.

In the hospital, there were many children diagnosed with cancer at different ages, ranging from one-year-old to their early teens. The AUIS students met a group of approximately 35 children. The children’s mothers complained about the cost of medicines that sometimes there is the lack of medicines, so they have to buy them outside the hospital, and they are too expensive for them because many of them do not have a good financial situation.

Despite the fact that the children are terminally ill, they became happy when they were given the gifts, and their mothers smiled at their optimism, so AUIS students tried to wipe sadness off their faces as much as they could. At the end of our visit, we talked with Kak Nariman, an official at the hospital, about the patients’ conditions. He assured us that a few of them have hopes to be cured, but it is the matter of time. Also, he hoped that our visit would not be the last visit to the hospital. Finally, he expressed his thanks and appreciation towards AUIS students for their visit, and he thanked them for the initiative that they took.

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