As the Iraqi Government celebrated its final victory over ISIL this week, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, released a new study, which shows that 90 per cent of displaced Iraqis are determined to return home. This is similar to the long-term intentions recorded in 2016.

More than 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to their places of origin so far in 2017. In total since the start of the crisis in 2014, IOM estimates that more than 2.8 million displaced Iraqis have returned, while more than 2.9 million people remain displaced.

The IOM study, Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) analyzes both displacement and return movements of conflict-affected people across Iraq. Approximately 2.1 million displaced persons and more than 1.6 million returnees, based in 3,583 locations across Iraq, have been covered in the assessment, which was carried out between March and May 2017.

Only in Basrah and Najaf did families report that they consider integrating into the local community, where they are displaced.

According to the findings, Anbar was the single governorate where most returns took place in both 2016 and 2017, followed by Ninewa in 2017.

Among the main findings, this study identifies that residential and infrastructure damage is widespread. Nearly one third of returnees are reported to have returned to houses that have suffered significant damage, and 60 per cent to moderately damaged residences. Regarding infrastructure, most damage appears to affect roads, followed by the public power grid and water networks.

USAID Counselor Thomas H. Staal, a former USAID Iraq Mission Director and now one of the agency’s top officials, returned to Iraq December 5-10 to advance U.S. efforts to help Iraq’s most vulnerable communities following the defeat of ISIS.

While in Baghdad, Staal met with government officials including Dr. Mahdi al-Allaq, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, to discuss how Iraq can strengthen its support for minority communities.

Staal also met with United Nations representatives who are implementing U.S.-funded stabilization programs in Anbar, Ninewa, and Salah ad Din provinces.  He affirmed the U.S. government’s pledge to provide an additional $150 million to this effort.

With this new infusion of funds, the United States will have provided more than $265 million for stabilization projects and a separate $1.7 billion throughout Iraq for humanitarian assistance to Iraqis who were displaced by the ISIS threat beginning in 2014.

On December 6, Staal traveled to Erbil for a closer look at U.S. assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.  After an initial meeting with the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, he sat down with NGO leaders and representatives from the Christian, Yezidi, Sabean-Mandean, Kakai, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, and Jewish communities to hear their concerns and needs post-ISIS.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Anbar’s western desert is a hiding place for the Islamic State group, locals say. And they fear the extremists will be back as soon as an opportunity presents itself.

Last week the Iraqi government declared victory over the extremist group known as the Islamic State. But, according to locals and military personnel living in the Anbar province, that declaration was premature.

“I have seen no genuine indications that this province is rid of the Islamic State group,” says Ayad al-Nimrawi, a 43-year-old who runs a restaurant in the Kilo area, about 160 kilometres along the road between Baghdad and the Syrian-Jordanian border. “I still see commercial trucks accompanied by security details when they come along here. Even the security forces cannot travel down here alone, they require extra protection.”

“I will only feel that we have won the final victory when I see life returning to this road as it was before the Islamic State came. We used to travel here at night without any fear of armed groups but today this international road is almost completely closed. As soon as dusk falls, this road is a death trap.”

The victory celebrations were not about the complete eradication of the IS group, rather they were meant to be a signal about the end of military operations, suggests Tariq Yusef al-Asal, a police chief and one of the leaders of Anbar’s tribal militias fighting the Islamic State. “We have the right to be proud of the victories achieved by our security forces in the fighting that’s gone on over three years,” he told NIQASH. “We have sovereignty over our land again.”

However, he adds, “it would be stupid to say that Iraq is now completely clean of extremist groups like the Islamic State. There are still sleeper cells and incubators inside and outside our cities.”

“No country – not even European nations – can claim they are completely clean of Islamic State members,” he continued. “Those sleeper cells will keep the organisation alive and sustain it. These groups make good use of any security vacuum in any country to try and achieve their aims.”

By John Lee.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared “the ending of entire clearance of the Aljazeera in Nineveh and Anbar completely, and we have full control along the Iraqi-Syrian … Border.

Al-Abadi has said that the victories were achieved by unity and determination. “The enemy wanted to destroy our country and civilization and we have countered and defeated it.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Ján Kubiš, congratulated Iraq on the complete liberation of all of its territory from the Daesh terrorists:

“On this day, we remember all those who paid the ultimate price. Our thoughts are with the families of the martyrs and fighters from all around the country that stepped forward to save their country, and with the millions who have been displaced and are eagerly waiting to return to their homes to rebuild their lives.”

(Sources: Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister, UN)

USAID says it supports Iraq’s fight against corruption

12/10/2017


The senior adviser to the US Agency for Development Thomas Stahl announced the Agency’s support for Iraq’s efforts in the fight against corruption, pointing out that these efforts is a project of Tamkul, through which the Agency works to develop the capabilities of Iraqi ministries and local governments on the one hand and reduce cases of corruption on the other .

"The project started working with the Ministries of Health, Public Municipalities, Higher Education and Scientific Research as well as the local government of Basra," Stal said in a press statement.

"The agency has worked for the past three years with the Directorate of Water Resources in Basra Governorate.


On reconstruction efforts in the liberated areas, Stahl said his country provides 1.7 billion dollars in aid to Iraq.

He stressed that the aid is focused on relief of displaced families, especially in Nineveh Plain and Sinjar, and helping returnees to the liberated areas by providing electricity and water services as well as health services and rehabilitation of schools in their areas.

On his new $ 150 million grant to Iraq, Stahl said it would be provided through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), noting that last year Washington provided $ 115 million to the provinces of Anbar, Erbil and Salahuddin, totaling $ 265 million.

"The province of Basra is not covered by these grants as it and the other southern provinces will include a program will soon begin under the name of" integration "and coincides with the end of the program" progress "and near the end of the program (thread) provided by the United States to those areas as assistance to the Iraqi government.

http://aynaliraqnews.com/index.php?aa=news&id22=88329

US

By the end of the third quarter of 2017, UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) was undertaking 1,208 projects in 23 cities across five governorates in Iraq.

Over one quarter of the projects were being implemented in the city of Mosul, which was fully liberated in July 2017. The liberation of all of Mosul marked an important milestone in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), representing the biggest city to have been retaken by the Iraqi Security Forces as well as the most complex stabilization challenge to date.

Mosul’s road to recovery has only begun, especially in West Mosul where the destruction is unprecedented. Access to all portions of the city on the western side remains a challenge in some parts, especially the Old City which was almost completely destroyed.

The Funding Facility is working with the Government of Iraq to prioritize the response, focusing on restarting public services and setting the conditions for people to come home with dignity.

In a dozen cities where FFS is cleared to work, many basic services are now functioning. From Ramadi and Fallujah to Tikrit and Qayara, returnees have much improved access to water, health, and electricity services. Schools are being reopened and university campuses are bustling with students.

Whilst a colossal amount of work remains to be done, there is palpable progress being made. Nearly 900 projects completed or ongoing in FFS areas outside of Mosul are helping create the sense that there is momentum and the Government of Iraq is helping returnees.

Governorates that have been liberated for over a year are beginning to transition from immediate stabilization to expanded stabilization priorities. In Anbar, Salah al-Din, and Diyala, expanded stabilization projects that were being designed and procured are increasingly being implemented.

Twenty-four donors have contributed US$ 426,611,814 as of 30 September 2017, and approximately $300,000,000 in hard pledges are expected to be mobilized in the fourth quarter of 2017. This report provides an overview of all FFS activities underway during the third quarter, which encompasses 1 July – 30 September 2017.

Highlights

  • In Mosul, 350 projects are being implemented or developed, 250 schools were assessed, and water has been restored to 300,000 residents in East Mosul
  • In the Ninewah Plains, 45 schools were completed or being rehabilitated. Work on the Hamdaniyah Hospital, the first Expanded Stabilization project in the Ninewah Plains, is underway
  • Two major bridges in Anbar were reopened, and another five are being implemented
  • Housing rehabilitation in Fallujah and Ramadi targeted over 6,000 homes
  • Five segments of the Tikrit Teaching Hospital are complete; the rehabilitation of the main building will begin soon

The full report can be downloaded here (7.6MB)

(Source: UNDP)

By Shelly Kittleson for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Flags of Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) — with their distinctive arm thrusting a gun upward over a green Iraq against a white background, a strip of red and a Quran below — fluttered at the checkpoint into Qaim, above a dusty, barren wadi below.

When Al-Monitor visited the area Nov. 6, the checkpoint was manned by Asaib Ahl al-Haq fighters and members of the fellow Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militia Kataib Hezbollah, also long backed by Iran and a part of which continues to fight on the Syrian side of the border alongside the Syrian regime.

Referring to the capture of the Karableh and Saada areas of Qaim from the Islamic State (IS), Col. Moussa Hamad al-Karbouly told Al-Monitor in Karableh, “PMU fighters from the south were the first to enter.”

Karbouly leads the local Sunni PMU force, Liwa Aaly al-Furat (Upper Euphrates Regiment). Many local forces in the area have taken to using the terms “main PMU,” “southern PMU” and “Shiite PMU” to distinguish among outside paramilitary groups and local fighters, who are often somewhat inappropriately referred to as “tribal forces.”

Aaly al-Furat has members from several different tribes and receives monthly salaries from the Baghdad government, as do other PMU factions. It does not answer to any tribal leader, although it does maintain good relations with the various sheikhs in the area. Anbar province is a predominantly Sunni region, and tribal traditions and links are strong.

Aaly al-Furat has 500 men, who were trained by Danish Special Forces at the al-Asad air base farther east, also in Anbar, and equipped by the United States, Karbouly said. Other local forces have received training from the international coalition as well, while many non-local PMU forces have received support from Iran and Iranian advisers.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Even before the extremists were in control in Anbar, selling alcohol was banned. During extremist control, selling liquor was punishable by death. But now liquor stores have become a sign of freedom.

These days as you head into Karmah, one of the smaller cities in the central Anbar province, you may notice a small store on the way into town.

It’s not a big shop but its doors are wide open and it is selling alcohol. It is an unusual sight in this province, where conservative traditions and religious customs prevent the open sale and consumption of alcohol. But things have changed since the extremist group known as the Islamic State was in charge here.

“While we were displaced we lived in both Baghdad and in northern Iraq,” says Ahmad Abu Ali, a 44-year-old local; Karmah was part of the territory controlled by the extremist Islamic State, or IS, group and Abu Ali and his family fled their hometown. “And we used to see a lot of these shops there, close to where we lived. To us, it was an indication that these cities were safe and secure.”

“Although the drinking of alcohol is against our religion, the shop is a good sign. It is proof that the militants who once had such a big role in this city, and those who supported the militants, no longer play a part here,” Abu Ali explains. “Each person can practice their own religion. And when we saw this [the alcohol store] it gave us hope.”

Although Abu Ali doesn’t drink, his fellow townspeople who do are happy about the alcohol store for other, more obvious reasons.

“In the past we used to have to go to Baghdad to buy spirits,” Ibrahim Abdo, a 38-year-old local of Fallujah, told NIQASH. Abdo used to travel to the capital to buy enough alcohol to last a couple of weeks but he no longer has to do this. “We used to hide the bottles in the car so that the police and people at checkpoints wouldn’t harass us. They would destroy the drinks if they found them. Today I can just buy what I want even while the security forces are watching,” he says, somewhat incredulous.

Parliamentary expectations of delaying the adoption of the budget until February 2018
12/6/2017

Finance Committee: Government has developed a solution to address the share of the region
Baghdad / follow-up morning
Members of the House of Representatives expected that the budget will be delayed until February 2018 for the large differences and objections by the political blocs.

The parliamentary finance committee confirmed that the forms obtained in the Kurdistan Region share of the federal budget for the next year 2018 by the Federal Council of Ministers will be dealt with Parliament, the deputy Jassem Mohammed Jaafar, that the amounts allocated to the province budget amounts to 14 trillion and the liberated provinces of ten trillions, calling for a fair Basra province, which is considered "basket of Iraq."


The MP for the coalition of state law, Ibtisam al-Hilali, in a press statement followed by "morning": "The Finance Committee received many requests and proposals from the political blocs on the budget and there are strong objections to the items,"

adding that "the House of Representatives will discuss all objections and make amendments and presented to the government Before passing in order to avoid being challenged by the government, "noting that" the budget is likely to be delayed until February of 2018 for the differences on them. "

In turn, called a member of the Legal Committee in the House of Representatives, high Nassif, Prime Minister Haider Abadi, "written agreements" in order to pass the budget law, stressing that the challenges facing the law may threaten to "postpone consideration".

Nassif said in a press statement: "There are concerns about the budget law may translate into postponement of consideration if there were no written agreements written by Prime Minister Haider Abadi," indicating that "the budget faces great challenges because of the absence of allocations and throwing the ball in the parliament" ,

Nassif pointed out that "the most prominent of these challenges the continuation of the work of the oil agreement with Kurdistan, despite the extension of the federal government control of Kirkuk oil and the allocation of the amount of trillion and 200 million dinars to the Peshmerga forces,"

and showed Nassif, "the Union of forces presented 11 points on the reconstruction of liberated areas From the control of the preacher, while the budget is not _khasasat this side.

" Share of the Region
For his part, said a member of the Finance Committee parliamentary Abdul Qadir Mohammed in a statement followed by "morning" that "the federal government reduced the share of Kurdistan within the draft budget for the next year, but at the same time introduced paragraphs in the draft budget, including paragraph 39, which indicates that the Council of Ministers Add Financial allocations for salaries of employees, the purchase of weapons, and electricity issues. "

He explained that "the government recognizes that the figure set for Kurdistan is not enough, especially for staff, so I put a material to amend the forms," ​​he said, stressing that "the parliament will transfer from the money allocated for sovereign allocations to the operating budget."

In the context, MP Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said in a statement received by "morning": "The budget went a balanced way when it relied on the census and distributed among the provinces, including the provinces of the region closer to justice, except Basra, which needs more fairness," calling the House of Representatives to "Balance the budget as fast as possible."

Jafar added that "the amounts allocated to the region up to about 14 trillion and the three liberated provinces (Nineveh, Salah al-Din and Anbar) up to the limit of ten," noting that "Basra, although it (basket Iraq), but suffer poverty and therefore need to resolve the petrodollar or add Towards Tralionin to be closer to the share of equity as other provinces. "

"The other provinces did not receive any grant when the Kurdistan region and the three liberated provinces were granted grants in 2017 to about 3 trillion dollars," Jaafar said.

Constitutional violation of its part, called for the National Coalition MP Jamila Obeidi, the government to send the final accounts for the budget this year and previous years, noting that sending the draft budget law without the final accounts is a "constitutional violation."

Jumaili said in a press statement: "The Constitution obliges the government to send the draft budget law accompanying the final accounts of the budget this year to find out what is left of them and the amount of money disbursed and this has not happened four consecutive years,"

adding that "the President of the Republic is obliged to force the government to send the final accounts in his capacity Patron of the Constitution and its application, "loaded with the Ministry of Finance" responsible for those violations as the body supervising the implementation of the government’s financial policy, "as she put it.

Petrodollar maturity in turn, called on the governor of Dhi Qar Yahya Nazareth, the central government to include the province benefits from the proceeds of petrodollar within the general budget for the 2018 items.

Naciri said in a press statement on Tuesday: "The province did not receive any amounts of these revenues during the last period, which was reflected negatively on the environmental and service reality in light of the delay of more than 400 projects because of the financial crisis," and noted that "petrodollars were Dedicated to compensate those affected by the oil industry and to improve the environmental reality in the province. "

Naseiri said that "the province hopes the central government to pay special attention to the affected provinces and work to launch those late allocations to address the decline in services because of the financial crisis."

http://www.alsabaah.iq/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=148767

A total of 117 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 264 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in November 2017*, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The number of civilians killed in November (not including police) was 114, while the number of injured (not including police) was 264.

Of those figures, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate, with 201 civilian casualties (51 killed, 150 injured). Salahaddin Governorate followed, with 24 killed and 60 injured, and Kirkuk had 12 killed and 28 injured. UNAMI has not been able to obtain the civilian casualty figures from the Anbar Health Department for the month of November.

The two bombings in Tuz Khurmatu, Salahaddin Governorate, and in Baghdad Governorate in November which caused numerous casualties among civilians are a horrible reminder that the terrorists can still inflict blows at peaceful citizens, and that all measures need to be taken by the authorities to protect civilians against the barbarism of the terrorists,” said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Ján Kubiš.

*CAVEATS: In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum.

(Source: United Nations News Centre)