Kurdistan covers four countries : Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran. There are around 40 million Kurds. They represent the biggest stateless nation in the world. France Libertés was mainly in Iraqi Kurdistan with an office in Erbil, the capital. The autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan has around 6 million inhabitants. The region also has its own Parliament and autonomous regional government.

Since 1986 in Turkish Kurdistan and since the Anfal in 1988-1989 in Iraqi Kurdistan, Danielle Mitterrand supported a lot the Kurdish people. She managed to raise awareness amongst the International Community about the human rights violations in Kurdistan (after the Anfal, with the UN resolution 688. She also supported later the kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan). She is called “The mother of the Kurds”. Following her last trip to Kurdistan in 2009, she committed her foundation to the Iraqi Kurdish government in order for it to act for its youth. This commitment has been achieved through the establishment of a training programme for youth facilitator trainers in partnership with the federation Léo Lagrange.

Today, Iraqi Kurdistan welcomes more than 2 million refugees and displaced people, including about 500,000 children fleeing conflict. Most of them live in camps, for example Bardarash near Mosul, hosts 12 000 people (5 000 children) and has two schools, an hospital and a community center.

Camp de Bardarash Kurdistan irakien

In these refugees and displaced camps, many adults, who are skilled and motivated, find themselves jobless. Frustration, loss of self-esteem, living conditions encourage them to withdraw and cause them significant psychological suffering. Children have at best 3 hours of classes a day. Isolation and inactivity are added to the traumas of war, and the psychological and social needs are very important.


It is necessary to heal the traumas to go back to a normal life. After the emergency of basic needs, finding constructive activities is the only way to build resilience. That’s why France Libertés and the popular education federation Léo Lagrange launched in September 2016 an action program aimed at these people : training and accompaniment of facilitators for adults and educational activities for children.

Formation Kurdistan irakien France Libertés

The program “Animation and Resilience in Kurdistan”, supported by the “Agence française de développement” and the city of Paris, should enable the training and support of Kurds, Iraqis and Syrians to set up resilient and educational activities for refugee and displaced children. 12 refugees and displaced camps benefit from these activities.

The facilitators, men and women from different origins, are paid and trained a whole year with a daily support. At the end of their training, they receive a certificate validated by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Xenia Kurdistan irakien

The children take part in different activities such as theater, drawing, slam, painting or dancing, and extracurricular activities such as English lessons or reading. They also develop collective projects. The pedagogical methods used are innovative and make the child able to be fully involved in the acquisition of knowledge and skills. The activities require modest means and are inspired by local games and traditions.

In parallel with the training of facilitators, a training course for Kurdish trainers is set up : three sessions in two years, with theoretical and field courses. The participants receive a certificate at the end of the training. These people are experienced in youth animation and come from Kurdish associations and public youth centers and will then be able to train the facilitators themselves in Kurdistan.

This program is built in accordance with the national policies of the Kurdish government. It will promote the establishment of an ambitious youth policy in Kurdistan. It contributes to the social structuring of these camps through the training, motivation and participation of the refugees themselves.

The program in a few figures :

  • a three-years program
  • in 12 camps
  • 43 facilitators
  • 13 trainers
  • more than 8 000 children taking part in the activities
  • 2 certified training courses (animator and trainer)
  • 1 animation booklet in 3 languages (English, Arabic and Kurdish)

This program seeks to combat the causes and consequences of psychosocial deconstruction and to implement more means to build the necessary resilience and to consider a return to a peaceful life.

Logo AFD

The program is funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).