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Iraq : first steps towards the creation of a training academy on humanitarian norms within the Popular Mobilization Forces

24th May 2017 | Iraq - Humanitarian norms

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The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and Geneva Call agreed to start a process to reinforce the PMF own capacity to train their fighters on humanitarian norms and the protection of civilians.  The PMF are one of the main armed actors in Iraq and are currently participating in the military operations in the Mosul area together with the Iraqi Army.

This achievement was reached after several meetings between the PMF official spokesman, Mr. Ahmad Al Assadi and Geneva Call and a successful conference in Najaf in February 2017.

“The PMF are a major armed actor in Iraq and since the adoption of a law by the Iraqi Parliament in November 2016, they have the status of governmental security forces operating alongside the army” commented Hichem Kadhraoui, Geneva Call’s Director of Operations, “it is therefore essential that they develop their own training processes so that each of their fighters knows precisely the rules he must respect to protect civilians.”

As a first step of this process, Geneva Call delivered a   training session for 12 PMF officers on humanitarian norms, in collaboration with the Hakim Foundation. Two other similar training will follow by the end of September 2017. Following these initial training sessions, the PMF and Geneva Call will select the officers who will participate in a training of trainers later this year and become the PMF official trainers on humanitarian norms.

This cooperation is possible thanks to the support of the office of Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani with which Geneva Call has been maintaining a dialogue on the protection of civilians since 2016.

The 40 PMF brigades are mainly Shia, but also include Sunni, Christian and Yezidis individuals and battalions. They were created after a call issued by the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani – the spiritual leader of Shia in Iraq –  to protect Iraqi cities in 2014 from the advance of the Islamic State group.

This programme is supported by the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.

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