• Saad Meriwani | Senior communication assistant

IRAQ, Baghdad – After years of conflict and displacement, the residents of Latifiya, 35 kilometers south of Baghdad, are scripting tales of resilience and determination. Through the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq, individuals like Omer Jamal Ubaid, Salam Khadum Mehana, and Ali Abbas Talib are forging brighter futures for themselves and their families. Through a grant provided by IOM’s Individual Livelihoods Assistance program (ILA), combined with a tailored approach to provide individuals with the skills and resources they need to succeed, their lives have been transformed.

Omer Jamal Ubaid, a former construction worker and a father of five, was displaced from his village during the 2014 attack by Daesh. Upon his return to Latifiya in 2017, he seized the opportunity provided by IOM's grant to embark on a new venture. With the support of his family and a $2000 grant, Omer bought a motorbike and now works transporting goods for shops and assisting families with their shopping needs. Reflecting on his journey, Omer shares, "the financial assistance not only brings happiness to my family but also fulfills and satisfies me".

Supported by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), IOM’s Individual Livelihoods Assistance programme (ILA) has been a lifesaver for many Iraqis trying to restart their lives after many years of displacement and unemployment.

“As a long-standing partner of IOM, KOICA’s vision is to realize universal values and create mutual prosperity for the people of Iraq” shares Mr. Lee Sunghoon, Country Director, KOICA Iraq. “The Individual Livelihoods Assistance programme is one such investment by the Government of Korea that is revolutionizing the lives of everyday Iraqis”.

Salam Khadum Mehana, a father of four, decided to leverage his entrepreneurial spirit by expanding his grocery store. With the aid of the IOM grant, as well as trainings in business development, Salam learned finances and accounting to manage his business. He also purchased freezers and refrigerators to extend the shelf life of his produce and dairy products.

Customers at Salam’s grocery store in Latifiya. Photo: ©IOM 2024/AAbdli

Ali Abbas Talib, the sole-breadwinner of his family, was also displaced in 2014, limiting his access to education. With IOM’s grant, Ali opened a grocery store, in line with the high demand for household products, basic necessities, and food items within Latifiya's Shakha 3 community. The program takes into consideration the skills of all participants at the application stage to ensure success of their businesses. As Ali and others navigate the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction, ILA comes as a boost in the journey of their recovery.

Income from Ali’s grocery store supports his entire family. Photo © IOM 2024/SAlsaffouri

“Omer, Salam and Ali are just three of over 18,000 individuals in Iraq that have benefitted from the transformative support of ILA grants,” shares Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission, IOM Iraq. “Nearly 90 per cent of the households that benefitted from the grants have reported an increase in their monthly income, giving them some financial stability and a much-needed breather after years of displacement”.

Collaborating since 2021, IOM and KOICA support economic recovery and job creation programmes in Iraq, with an special focus on access to livelihoods, employment and durable solutions for IDPs. KOICA’s support focuses on two flagship interventions implemented by IOM in the country: the Individual Livelihoods Assistance (ILA), which provides beneficiaries with vocational trainings and grants for the creation of microbusinesses, as well as the Enterprise Development Fund (EDF), which facilitates seed funding to businesses across Iraq to encourage job creation.


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SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities