Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, May 10, 2004

Everyone is Kurdish

"This is something very interesting," my translator whispered to me as we walked the halls of the Iraqi Ministry of Environment.

Whenever my translator says this my ears prick up because what usually follows is a useful and instructive observation about Iraq that I may not have noticed.

"Everyone in here," she continued, "from the five secretaries of the Senior Advisor to the Minister himself is Kurdish."

Ah, yes, I had heard that this Ministry is Kurdish, just as I have heard that other Ministries are controlled exclusively by different parties ... Da'wa, SCIRI, etc .... But whether this ministry is PUK- (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) or KDP- (Kurdish Democratic Party) controlled, I have no idea.

The Ministry of Environment has one of the smallest budgets of all the Iraqi Ministries, but some of the biggest problems. We went there to attend a meeting of Iraqi Environmental NGO's and also to discuss a potential Tigres River Project that would involve boating the river to visit all of the hotspots on the Tigres.

After a long update on what the Ministry of Environment has done over the last four months ... (I have to admit that it was a bit hard to tell which were actual accomplishments and which were simply plans or proposals for future projects to be done at a later date when there is some money to do them). Much of the report was dedicated to restating the need for better support and better security.

There were few Iraqi NGO's in the audience even though the meeting was for NGO's. When the host of the meeting asked why this was, a man from an Iraqi NGO, the National Association for Protection of the Environment and Child, said, "NGO's get nothing from these meetings."

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