Rudaw highlights how IOM's new marketplace in Erbil's Daratu area connects host communities, refugees and internally displaced Iraqis

DARATU, Kurdistan Region – They stand proudly next to each other behind their stalls in the brand new Daratu Market place, one selling vegetables, the other cleaning materials. Soon the purple ribbon will be cut to officially open this covered market with its sixty places, and these two men have been working since early morning to fill their stalls for their first day of work.

Simmo Hussein Bero, 60, fled from the Yezidi region of Shingal (Sinjar) when the Islamic State (ISIS) invaded it two years ago. He was a vegetables seller there, too, and he thinks his clients will be mainly people from his own community who now live in the nearby Qushtapa camp.

Atta Mohammed, 36, is from Daratu itself, a small town on the outskirts of the Kurdistan capital Erbil, and he used to drive around town selling goods and household items in his van.

Hussein hopes to earn enough to finally move his wife and child from the camp to a rented home. He is already saving gas money not having to drive his van around town anymore.

They are two of sixty people that will benefit from this project developed with American funding by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that is meant to help locals, refugees and internally displaced (IDP) to improve their livelihood.

The project that also aims to connect these different groups living in the area, was set up after a careful assessment of the local needs, says Barbara Rijks, head of the IOM office in Erbil.

The users pay no rent, but do pay for the services the municipality offers, like cleaning every day after closing and electricity, although the power shuts off eight hours every day and water is a problem in Daratu due to the fact that most wells have dried up.

IOM will not manage the project; the idea is for it to be locally owned, Rijks says. “The IOM will soon hand it over to the municipality, but we will monitor the situation for another year to make sure all goes well.”

The coordination with the local government already existed when it was decided to build the market, says Auday Alawee, IOM’s senior program assistant who was in charge of the project, and that was partly because the main fruit and vegetable supply in the town came from road vendors selling bad quality.

Daratu is considered to be a poor area, as it was originally a collective town where women and children of the destroyed villages of Saddam’s Anfal-campaign of the eighties were housed.


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