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Iraqi visitors to present at Water for Peace symposium, Sept. 30

Experts and community leaders from the University of Kufa, located in Najaf, Iraq, will join University of Minnesota faculty for a symposium on the importance of clean water for health, education, and public life. The public symposium, titled Water for Peace: An Iraqi-U.S. Partnership, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 2-4:30 p.m. in Room 64 of the University of Minnesota Biological Sciences Building, 1455 Gortner Ave., St. Paul.

This program brings together a multi-disciplinary panel of speakers to discuss the impact of clean water on many dimensions of civic life and how a bilateral community organizing effort can mobilize citizens to impact community health issues. The panel will be followed by small group discussions with Iraqi community leaders.

A delegation of 12 Iraqi scholars and civic leaders arrived in Minnesota Sept. 12 for the first official exchange in a new sister city relationship between Najaf and Minneapolis. The University has played a vital role in the ongoing partnership and future collaborations are expected. The Iraqis have spent their time in Minnesota exploring opportunities for future partnerships with faculty at the U of M and seeing sights around the Twin Cities and the state.

According to a recent report by the United Nations, lack of access to clean water poses a significant threat to the health of Iraqi children. In the province of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, a unique partnership has developed to help meet the challenge of providing clean water at schools, hospitals, and clinics. An Iraqi NGO, the Muslim Peacemaker Teams, has partnered with a Minnesota non-profit, the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, to install water filtration systems in important public sites in Najaf.

The Water for Peace symposium is sponsored by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, the Muslim Peacemaker Teams, and U of M's Department of Family Social Science, College of Education and Human Development and Office of International Programs.

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