On January 28, 2024, the community of Shoura city came together to celebrate the completion of a monument. A pair of clasped hands cast in bronze now sits at the entrance of the city, greeting those who enter with a symbol of community and collective healing years after being ravished by Daesh control.

The memories associated with this city's entrance are deeply traumatic for the residents of Shoura – Daesh once carried out their crimes and executions and this location to intimidate the community into submission.

The Youth Messengers Organization (YMO), a local NGO active in southern Mosul, lead the community toward healing by constructing this monument, selecting the city's entrance to rebrand the town.

Designed by Iraqi artist Ninos Thabit, the monument measures 100cm x 340cm at the base and stands 375cm tall and was constructed over the course of three months. It stands as a symbol of resilience and unity for the community in Shoura in the face of violent extremism.

In Cuneiform, the Sumerian form of writing in ancient Iraq, the monument is adorned with the words “The Civilization of the Great”, “Shoura” and “We Will Remain Here Forever” in addition to Mesopotamian symbols.

Iraqi sculptor Ninos Thabit – pictured in this photo at the site  – said: “The sculpture is inspired by Assyrian art, the waters represent the Tigris and Euphrates – being the source of life that surrounds Shoura. The holding hands represent unity of Iraqis. The monument represents what we want and need. Especially during these circumstances that we’re living in. I hope that peace prevails in Iraq.”

Organized by YMO, the monument unveiling event was attended by local dignitaries and community members including the mayor Mohammed Farhan who said during the event: “These [community-led] activities, from handcrafts and painting to planting trees and the installment of this monument contribute to the development of our area and building a shared future of reconstruction and social cohesion.”

The community members were actively involved in both the design and construction process of the monument.

Supported by IOM’s Wasl Civil Society Fund, the YMO has been actively supporting volunteer activities that contribute to peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism in southern Ninewa, including paintings on public buildings that spread positive messages. YMO’s work, including this monument, is made possible thanks to support from the German Federal Foreign Office.


Since 2020, IOM has worked in partnership with the Government of Iraq and community members to develop whole-of-society programmes and strategies to prevent violent extremism and build sustainable peace. IOM established the Wasl Civil Society Fund in the spring of 2022 and has since supported 41 civil society organizations to deliver 50 projects, catalyzing community led initiatives that address drivers of instability, displacement, and violent extremism.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 16 - Peace Justice and Strong Institutions