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Story About Us: A Fashion Journey Creating Opportunities

Sarajevo, 27 Dec 2021 – As the lights illuminated the stage to mark the start of the fashion show in Sarajevo, dozens of dreams took flight, warming the winter chill. One of them Zahra’s, a 25-year-old migrant from Iran.

“Story About Us” was a fashion show, but much more than just a fashion show. It marked the launch of a concept, a fashion label, and the proof that people on the move don’t need to hide in the shadows.

The gala 17 December show at Sarajevo City Hall, on the eve of International Migrants Day, showed migrants in a blaze of light and colour, and was the culmination of months of hard work and dedication.

Amina, a young Iranian model woman in the Fashion Corner in TRC Usivak, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Photo: Vanja Lisac

“I am incredibly happy and grateful for this opportunity to take part in developing a new brand. By the end of the year, we will have an exhibition of our works and a fashion show. I don’t know, for me this is still like a dream.”

So said Zahra.

“So far, I used to find ideas for my creations on the Internet, wishing that, one day, I would become a designer. It seems to me that this wish will be realized here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Migrant models and migrant designers took to the catwalk to present works created in Migrant Centres across Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

Melina, a young model in the Fashion Corner in TRC Usivak, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Photo: Vanja Lisac

“Everyone gave their contribution to present our collection in the best possible way. An entire world made up of emotions such as joy, sadness, happiness, tears, uncertainty. All of this is woven into the pores of the fabrics from which these garments are made,” said Aleksandra Lovrić, fashion designer and coordinator of the EU-backed International Organization for Migration (IOM) programme that made dreams real.

The story started in the migrant reception facilities as a well-being initiative for migrants. IOM established sewing corners for people to meaningfully spend their time during the pandemic, getting the chance to improve their sewing skills and to create reusable masks from recycled materials.

“Soon after the establishment, it was clear that we had something unique with much greater potential: creative migrants with a flair for fashion design and interest in showcasing their talents and learning about other cultures,” says Laura Lungarotti, IOM Chief of Mission in BiH and Sub-regional Coordinator for the Western Balkans.

“The sewing corners rapidly grew into something we could have hardly imagined: fashion studios.”

Melina, a young model in the Fashion Corner in TRC Usivak, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Photo: Vanja Lisac

Several local artists and renowned fashion designers enthusiastically joined the project, sharing their skills and experience with the migrants. “This project raised an extraordinary enthusiasm among the artistic community. The fashion corners have now turned into a space for cultural exchange, mutual learning, where migrants can express their creativity and collaborate with local artists, jointly leaving their mark in the community,” added Lungarotti.

The next step was to develop a brand: NO NATION FASHION. The brand aims to send the message that human mobility can offer development opportunities to both countries of origin, destination and transit, such as BiH. It celebrates diversity, a meeting of cultures, and abilities that know no borders. It combines the talent, creativity and skills of migrants and the expertise and cultural expressions of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s fashion designers.

Along with her wish to become a designer, Zahra and her family want to continue their lives in BiH. This fashion story is just one step on her path towards making this country a new home for her and her family.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 16 - Peace Justice and Strong Institutions
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

UNESCO marks semi-centennial anniversary of biosphere preservation

FAO/João Roberto Ripper .
Farmers, who gatherer flowers in the Southern Espinhaço Mountain Range in Brazil, enhance biodiversity and preserve traditional knowledge. The UN cultural agency commemorated on Monday the 50th anniversary of its Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), which created in 1971, has been promoting a long-lasting connection between people and nature.

“This is really a programme for the people, because people are part of nature…so they are incorporated in nature protection but also in sustainable use of natural resources”, said Miguel Clusener Godt, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCOMAB Programme Secretary.

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Former ISIL prison transformed to bring joy and support to youth

UNFPARehabilitated Ramadi Youth Safe Space in Anbar, Iraq.
Once used as a prison by the ISIL terror network in Iraq, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency and partners have converted a former grim detention centre into a sunny space for youth.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Iraq Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Governorate of Anbar re-opened on 25 December, the Ramadi Youth Safe Space –in what some saw as a timely Christmas gift.

Before ISIL confiscated it in 2014, the building was a House of Youth under the Ministry. During the war it underwent severe damage.

Ceremonial opening

The reconversion and reopening of a space that used to recall sorrow and pain has been transformed into one of hope and strength.

Speaking at an event kicking off a new beginning for the revamped building, Ali Farhan Al-Dulaimi, Governor of Anbar, thanked UNFPA for its continuous support and investment in the governate’s young people.

Rita Columbia, the UNFPA Representative in Iraq, highlighted the importance of empowering youth and engaging them in community life.

“I am very proud of the young volunteers who had a dream and made it a reality”, she said.

“Thanks to their determination and the support they received from UNFPA, Canada, the Anbar Directorate of Youth and Sports, the Governor of Anbar, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, this centre became a welcoming and truly youth-friendly space”.

Among others, the opening ceremony was attended by Salem Al-Zamanan, Kuwaiti Ambassador to Iraq; representatives of the Ministry of Youth and Sport; the Anbar Directorate of Youth and Sports; and representatives of civil society and young people.

A former prison used by the Islamic States in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has been transformed into a youth safe space, Anbar Governate, Iraq.

UNFPA A former prison used by the Islamic States in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has been transformed into a youth safe space, Anbar Governate, Iraq.

Young people work for youth

The Youth Safe Space serves as a place for girls and boys to receive life and leadership skills, peacebuilding and edutainment activities.

Prior to the war, the building had served as a special place for Anbar youth to build friendships and learn new skills in music, arts, science.

After the liberation of the territories, young people there decided to bring the building back to its original purpose and reclaim it as a youth-friendly spot.

Young volunteers led the process and made decisions about how to make the place more accessible for all youth in the surrounding communities, including the most vulnerable.

In 2018, UNFPA first helped the young people to rehabilitate two rooms for peace-building activities.

And as the demand for youth services grew among communities, UNFPA with support from Canada, the Anbar Governor and United Iraqi Medical Society for Relief and Development (UIMS) completed the rehabilitation of the Youth Safe Space.

UN News 29 December 2021

‘Bodyright’ campaign launched, to end rise in gender-based violence online

UNFPA/Alys Tomlinson Portrait of a teenage girl on her laptop sporting the ‘bodyright’ logo.
   Corporate logos and Intellectual Property (IP) receive “greater protection online than we do as human beings”, the UN’s women’s health agency that works to end gender-based violence, UNFPA, said on Thursday, launching a new bodyright campaign to help shield bodies and minds from cyber violence. “It’s time for technology companies and policymakers to take digital violence seriously”, said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem -“right now”.

The bodyright campaign highlights that corporate logos and copyrighted IP are more highly valued and better protected online than images of human bodies, which are often uploaded to the Internet without consent, and used maliciously.  The ⓑ symbol – which can be added to any image directly via Instagram stories using stickers, or by downloading it from the webpage – aims to hold policymakers, companies, and individuals to account while simultaneously driving the message that women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups are valued and will not be violated online.

UNESCO hails return of looted ancient Gilgamesh tablet to Iraq

UNESCO/Qahtan Al-Abeed The Temple of Charyos in southern Iraq, built during the same Mesopotamian era when the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet was inscribed.
The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet – one of the oldest surviving literary works in history – is to be returned to Iraq by the United States later this week, the UN agency for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), said on Monday. Made of clay and priceless, the Gilgamesh Tablet features inscriptions in Sumerian, a civilization of ancient Mesopotamia. The 3,500-year-old treasure was taken from a museum in Iraq after the start of the Gulf War in August 1990.

In 2007, it was introduced fraudulently into the US art market. According to news reports, the artefact was acquired in 2014 by the craft retail chain, Hobby Lobby, for display at the Museum of the Bible, in Washington DC – which is funded by the family of Hobby Lobby’s owner.

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CodePink is a women's grassroots-initiated, worldwide organization of women and men working for peace, social justice and a green economy. CodePink SF serves the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.


 

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