The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq has welcomed an additional contribution of AUD 2 million (approximately USD 1.5 million) from the Government of Australia to further enable stabilization and humanitarian efforts through explosive hazards management in liberated areas of Iraq.

This brings the current three-year contribution from Australia to a total of AUD 13 million (approximately USD 9 million).

The survey and clearance of explosive hazards are a crucial precursor to the commencement of humanitarian and stabilization initiatives, and the demand for assistance still exceeds the resources available. UNMAS in Iraq is working closely with the United Nations system and the Government of Iraq to enable humanitarian and stabilization efforts.

This contribution from the Government of Australia will further support UNMAS explosive hazards management activities to create safe conditions for the sustainable return of displaced people. It will also improve coordination, engagement and capacity enhancement of relevant government authorities, threat impact assessments as well as clearance and risk education initiatives. This will reduce the risk of explosive hazards in direct support of humanitarian and stabilization planning and delivery, while at the same time increase national capacities to manage the overall threat of newly identified explosive hazards in these areas.

The contribution comes in concert with a recent field visit organized for representatives of the Government of Australia to Fallujah in Anbar Governorate. During the visit, the delegation received a comprehensive briefing on UNMAS clearance activities inside the city’s most damaged areas, with its scale of destruction and contamination continuing to be prime inhibitors for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes.

Australia’s Ambassador to Iraq, Dr Joanne Loundes (pictured), said:

“Although much progress has already been made, the huge scale of explosive hazards contamination in Iraq means there is still much to be done. We are increasing Australia’s contribution to UNMAS because we are committed to helping Iraq address these challenges and helping displaced families return to their homes.”

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager for UNMAS in Iraq, said:

“Through its continuous support and close collaboration with UNMAS, the Government of Australia is helping to reduce the threat posed by explosive hazards, including improvised explosive devices, thereby enhancing community safety and facilitating the return of displaced people to their homes.”

The Government of Australia is an essential contributor to UNMAS explosive hazards management activities in Iraq. This latest contribution brings to AUD 18 million (approximately USD 13 million) the total amount of funds donated since 2016.

(Source: UN)

Iraq is pursuing major infrastructure projects to add millions of barrels per day of export capacity, in an effort to keep pace with ambitious plans to raise production.

In the short term, the Oil Ministry is looking to jump-start work on a long-delayed pipeline contract with the Australian company Leighton Offshore.

Beyond that, Iraq is looking to commission new offshore pipelines and to build an artificial island, the latter of which is likely to be contracted to the Dutch firm Boskalis.

More details here from Iraq Oil Report (subscription required)

(Source: Iraq Oil Report)

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has brought further charges against two individuals facing trial in relation to the Unaoil investigation.

Basil Al Jarah and Ziad Akle have both been charged with conspiracy to give corrupt payments to secure the award of a contract worth US$733 million to Leighton Contractors Singapore PTE Ltd for a project to build two oil pipelines in southern Iraq.

  • Basil Al Jarah was charged on 15 May 2018 with two offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
  • Ziad Akle was charged on 16 May 2018 with one offence of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

Basil Al Jarah and Ziad Akle will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 23 May 2018.

The SFO would like to thank the Australian Federal Police for the assistance it provided in connection with our investigation.

The investigation is ongoing.

(Source: SFO)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed a contribution of AUD 11 million (USD 8.6 million) from the Government of Australia dedicated to explosive hazard management in support of humanitarian and stabilization efforts.

Approximately 2.1 million civilians are still displaced due to the recent conflict and unsafe conditions to allow their return. A nation-wide intentions survey was carried out by REACH in partnership with the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster in internally displaced person (IDP) camps between 12 December 2017 and 14 January 2018 highlighted that 52% of people interviewed were not planning to return home.

Of the 52% that will not return, 21% stated this was due to the possible presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance. In effect, 1 in 10 IDPs in the camps surveyed who are not leaving the camp are not returning home because of the fear of explosive hazard contamination in or nearby their homes.

The Government of Iraq maintains explosive hazard management capacities within a number of government entities and established mine action authorities, though the demand for assistance far exceeds the resources available.

With the three-year contribution from Australia, UNMAS will conduct survey and clearance of liberated areas suspected to be affected by explosive hazards. This is in direct support of the Government priorities as outlined in the Directorate for Mine Action (DMA) “National Strategic and Executive Plan for Mine Action for 2017-2021” which highlights DMA’s aim to be able to survey, mark and render safe 50% of known explosive hazard contamination by 2021.

Simultaneously, in collaboration with DMA, risk education will be provided to those living in and returning to liberated areas, directly mitigating the threat posed by explosive hazards and IEDs. The efforts will specifically target affected communities known or suspected to have an explosive hazard or IED threat.

The Australian Ambassador to Iraq, Dr. Joanne Loundes (pictured) said:

“Australia is proud to partner with UNMAS and provide AUD11 million over three years towards critical demining activities in Iraq. Even though Iraqi territory has been liberated from ISIL, explosives remain hidden in homes, schools, hospitals and roads in former ISIL controlled areas. Unless these areas are cleared, people cannot return home, stabilisation and reconstruction efforts will stall and the human toll from this devastating conflict will continue.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, added:

“Through this generous contribution, the Government of Australia will further enable UNMAS to respond to explosive hazards through survey and clearance and in turn enable safe and dignified returns.”

(Source: UN)

Australia Substantially Increases Support to Stabilization in Iraq

The Government of Australia has contributed an additional USD 13.5 million (AUD 18 million) to the UNDP Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), which finances fast-track initiatives in areas of Iraq liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This brings Australia’s total contribution since 2015 to USD 16.5 million (AUD 22 million).

UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Ms. Marta Ruedas, said:

The progress being made is clearly visible across the country. Roads are being repaired, hospitals are reopening, electricity is being restored and people are returning to work. More than 60 percent of the almost 6 million people who fled during the conflict have returned home.

“UNDP deeply appreciates the timely and flexible funding provided by the Government of Australia, and while there remains a great deal of work to do, this generous contribution will help liberated areas get back on their feet.

The Australian Ambassador to Iraq, H.E. Dr. Joanne Loundes, said:

Australia is committed to the stabilisation and redevelopment of Iraq.  On top of restoring essential public services and rehabilitating critical infrastructure in liberated areas, the FFS prioritises projects that meet the needs of the most vulnerable, including women.  

“Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a core part of Australia’s foreign policy, economic diplomacy and development work and I welcome the opportunity to support work that directly contributes to this objective.

At the request of the Government of Iraq, UNDP established the Funding Facility for Stabilization in June 2015 to facilitate the return of displaced Iraqis, lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery, and safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism.

The Facility currently has more than 2,000 projects underway in 31 liberated cities and districts, helping local authorities to quickly rehabilitate essential infrastructure. Over 95 percent of all stabilization projects are carried out by local private sector companies, providing a key source of employment for local people.

(Source: UNDP)

By John Lee.

Despite this year’s drought, Iraq has reportedly bought more than 300,000 tonnes of domestic wheat this season, and maintained its estimate of 2.5 million tonnes of local purchases for the 2018 season.

According to Reuters, this implies an import gap of 2 million tonnes, as the country uses between 4.5 million and 5 million tonnes of wheat annually.

Iraq typically buys wheat of US, Canadian and Australian origin.

(Source: Reuters)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s state grains board has reportedly bought about 100,000 tonnes of hard wheat in a tender which closed last week.

50,000 tonnes is to be sourced from the United States at $332.17 a tonne c&f free out, with 50,000 tonnes from Australia at $309.95 a tonne c&f free out.

(Source: UkrAgroConsult)

By John Lee.

Iraq reportedly bought 50,000 tonnes wheat from Australia on Sunday at $312.50 a tonne c&f free out.

The tender, which  closed on 31st July, was open to wheat from the United States, Canada or Australia.

According to Reuters‘ sources. wheat from the United States was offered lowest at $299.19 a tonne c&f free out, and there were no offers for Canadian wheat.

(Source: Reuters)

The Government of Australia has contributed an additional US$1.5 million to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), which finances fast-track initiatives in areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

This brings Australia’s total contribution to FFS to almost US$3 million to date.

Based on priorities identified by the Government of Iraq and local authorities, FFS helps quickly repair public infrastructure, provides grants to small businesses, boosts the capacity of local government, promotes civil engagement and community reconciliation, and provides short-term employment through public works schemes.

UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, said:

“The level of destruction in the districts where fighting is still on-going in western Mosul is some of the worst in the entire military campaign. We already have 300 projects underway in Mosul, but it’s clear that this is only a start. We have to face the fact that an enormous amount of rehabilitation will be required.”

Australia’s Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Christopher Langman, said:

“Australia is pleased to continue supporting stabilization work in Iraq, including in the newly liberated areas of Mosul. We know that restoring basic services and repairing key infrastructure are crucial so that people can return to their homes.”

Established in June 2015, FFS is working in newly liberated areas in Anbar, Salah al-Din, Ninewah, Diyala and Kirkuk Governorates. More than 1,000 projects are completed or being implemented across 23 locations. Since the start of the crisis, over 1.8 million people have returned to their homes.

(Source: UNDP)