A Community Policing Forum (CPF) was established earlier this week in Al Qayara, Iraq, marking the start of community policing in Ninewa Governorate, in an area newly retaken from ISIL.
The first CPF meeting was attended by local police, NGO representatives and local community members. Several community members ran for leadership positions in the CPF and three were elected – two men and one woman.
As with the 46 CPFs already established around the country, the aim of the forum is to bring together community members and police to enhance communication and coordination and work together to address security concerns.
In areas retaken from ISIL, community policing serves as a tool to rebuild social and administrative structures at the grassroots level. With housing destroyed, infrastructure damaged, and social structures interrupted, these communities have enormous tasks ahead as they rebuild social, economic and administrative networks.
“The Community Policing Forum is a new concept in this area and has received positive feedback from the community; many local residents have requested to become members,” said the newly elected Head of Community Policing Forum, Mudhafar Nadhim Ali, a recognized Al Qayara community member. “We want to work with the police to increase cooperation, raise awareness on security concerns and improve our capacity to work together, so we can effectively respond to security issues.”
Colonel Fawze Jamil Soltan, Head of Police in Al Qayara said, “I would like this Community Policing Forum to serve as a model for other areas of Ninewa. Within the forum, there is good coordination because the community members know each other. If there are security issues they can address them, which makes the job easier for the police and helps keep the community safe.”
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission, Thomas Lothar Weiss, welcomed the establishment of the CPF in Al Qayara and the development of this new democratic structure in the area as an important step towards normalization in Ninewa.
“With the CPF in Al Qayara, the first in Ninewa governorate, Community Policing takes an important step forward by enabling exchange between the police and citizens in newly retaken areas. With the help of IOM, local authorities and community members are sowing the seeds of citizen participation and dialogue in this battered region, creating a structure that is very important for stability and security,” said Dr. Weiss.
IOM is supporting the Ministry of Interior to initiate dialogue with communities, as a crucial first step towards a more effective CP program in Iraq. The establishment of community policing forums is one proven means to kick-start such dialogue.
The current phase of the Community Policing Project, funded by the German Government, is designed to expand and support the CP project in identifying and addressing needs specific to Iraq, and to ensure that the project is self-sustaining. The initiatives in this phase are specifically focused on areas newly retaken from ISIL. Additional CPFs are planned for another area of Ninewa governorate, as soon as the security situation allows.
In the framework of the first phase of the project, established in 2012 and supported by the U.S. Department of State, IOM built a network of community police and motivated stakeholders, provided expertise and organized trainings and CPFs.
Al Qayara is a town with 15,000 residents in southern Ninewa Governorate, on the west bank of the Tigris River, about 60 km south of Mosul. In June 2014 the city was taken by the ISIL and retaken in October 2016 by Iraqi forces. Since then, the community is working to recover and accept displaced Iraqis from other parts of Mosul Corridor and Mosul City.
Nearly 50,000 Iraqis have been displaced to Al Qayara sub-district since the start of Mosul military operations on 17 October 2016. An emergency site in Al Qayara for displaced Iraqis, constructed by IOM, is now hosting more than 19,000 individuals and more seeking shelter continue to arrive.