Last 15 January 2019 the University of Duhok and the Duhok Polytechnic University, with an official ceremony, celebrated the opening of two offices at the core of their campuses: the Refugee Student Operational Support Unit or R-SOS Unit.

After two years of activities, trainings for local partner universities staff and study visits performed in Europe, the University of Duhok and the Duhok Polytechnic Universities are ready. University rooms and laboratories are well equipped and the staff is prepared for being operational. The main task of R-SOS units will be supporting and guiding refugees, IDPs and the local communities of students in their seek for academic opportunities and resuming their academic training paths.

The ceremony has been as well an occasion for International Organizations and National Governmental bodies to confirm their commitment and support for the project. Then a visit to the refugees’ camp Domiz 1 took place and remarked the willingness to link the project with the current context of Iraq, and be in a “listening mode” towards the potential beneficiaries of the projects.

The R-SOS Units will have an orienting and mentoring function, and help all the students potentially interested in applying for academic opportunities by providing access to opportunities, facilitating the knowledge of on-going scholarship programmes, promoting mobility projects and exchanges, but it is important to underline that they will never provide directly scholarships.

The R-SOS – that has no ambition of reinventing the wheel rather of putting all the wheels in the right place – aims at avoiding further fragmentation and duplication of initiatives.  So, on the operational side, the R-SOS aims at acting as a magnet for non-governmental organizations – NGOs, international actors, and other Universities in Iraq as well as in the MENA region, and attract possible opportunities to be disseminated. The staff of the units will receive, check, store and disseminate the obtained information and will help those interested in getting more info, apply, enter in contact with relevant opportunities.

The International and Governmental commitment

On the 15 Januray, the opening ceremony has been signed by the presence of representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund – UNICEF and German International Cooperation Agency – GIZ local offices, that confirmed their willingness to cooperate with the R-SOS staff and use the R-SOS facilities. Then the presence of national representatives from the Duhok Governorate , that is an associated partner of RESCUE project, was crucial in order to guarantee the necessary national commitment and guarantee the success of R-SOS future activities.

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