The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed an additional contribution of EUR 600,000 (approximately USD 670,000) from the Government of France dedicated to explosive hazard management activities that aim at enabling returns in retaken areas of Iraq.

The presence of explosive hazards, including improvised explosive devices in areas retaken from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Daesh, will continue to impede security and stability efforts until they are cleared and rendered safe.

Explosive hazards are not only blocking reconstruction efforts in retaken areas but also deterring people from returning home, particularly in areas affected by intense or prolonged military action. More than 1.4 million civilians are still displaced in Iraq due to the recent conflict and unsafe conditions to allow their return.

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 exceeds the resources available.

With this additional contribution from the Government of France, UNMAS will further develop a nationally-led response to the threat of explosive hazards, including the provision of explosive hazard management in areas prioritized for stabilization and humanitarian response, technical advice to national and regional authorities as well as risk education.

All projects implemented by UNMAS Iraq are gender mainstreamed and promote gender equality. Among other measures, the programme introduced in 2019 mixed search and clearance teams in Sinjar. This initiative is a step closer to empowering women in mine action and is facilitated by the government of France.

Commenting on the contribution, the French Ambassador to Iraq, Bruno Aubert (pictured), said:

“France considers the clearance of retaken areas as a priority to ensure that the right conditions are in place for displaced persons to return home. We want to renew our commitment to the Iraqi population regarding this essential matter and support the excellent work of UNMAS in Iraq.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, said:

“France is supporting explosive hazard management activities conducted by UNMAS Iraq for the second year. Clearance is still a critical step before any rehabilitation work can take place, and enables the safe, dignified and voluntary return of displaced communities. Such outcomes are only possible thanks to the generous contributions of donor countries and UNMAS Iraq is very grateful for the support provided by the Government of France.”

(Source: UN)

By Amnesty International. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Protest death toll surges as security forces resume brutal repression

Chilling eyewitness testimonies and verified video analysis by Amnesty International confirm that security forces have resumed their campaign of deadly violence against largely peaceful protesters in Baghdad and cities in southern Iraq, the organization has warned.

The crackdown on renewed protests from 20-22 January saw at least 10 people killed in Baghdad, Basra, Karbala and Diyala, according to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, while activists in Basra reported two additional deaths yesterday. Scores have been injured and arrested, with some subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in custody.

The organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab verified videos from several flashpoints in recent days, confirming live ammunition is once again being used against unarmed protesters, and the first use of deadly military-grade tear gas grenades observed since November.

More here.

(Source: Amnesty International)

Qatar Airways, Emirates and several other Persian Gulf airlines still fly in Iranian and Iraqi airspace and to cities in both countries since Iran and the United States traded military strikes.

Iranian airspace is important for all carriers in this region,” said Adil al-Ghaith, Emirates’ senior vice president, commercial operations, Persian Gulf, Middle East and Iran, Reuters reported.

Dubai-based Emirates and sister carrier flyDubai together serve 10 cities in Iran and Iraq, and have continued to use the airspace of both countries for other flights.

Kuwait Airways and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways have also continued using Iranian and Iraqi airspace.

We will continue to fly to Iran because Iran is an important country to us and it is our neighbor and we want to serve the people of Iran,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said on the sidelines of a Kuwait air show.

However, some regional carriers have changed their routes. Bahrain’s Gulf Air has redirected European flights away from Iraqi airspace and now flies longer, more fuel consuming routes over Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

We want to take the safest option even if it costs us a little bit more for a period of time. We can live with that,” Deputy Chief Executive Waleed Abdulhameed al-Alawi said.

The UAE regulator told its carriers — Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia AIRA.DU — this month to “evaluate flight path risks” although it said it was up to the airlines to make the final decision on the routes they chose.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Denmark Grants Additional USD 4.4 Million for Explosive Hazard Management in Retaken Areas of Iraq

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq welcomes an additional contribution of DKK 29.5 million (over USD 4.4 million) from the Government of Denmark to further enable stabilization and humanitarian efforts through explosive hazard management in retaken areas of Iraq.

With this contribution UNMAS will be able to better support the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of displaced communities, as well as permit rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts to proceed.

UNMAS in Iraq is working closely with the United Nations system and the Government of Iraq to enable humanitarian and stabilization efforts by providing survey and clearance activities of explosive hazards.

As part of its response to the mine action needs of the country, UNMAS also undertakes risk education initiatives targeting vulnerable women, men, and children who live in retaken areas. This ensures that local citizens are informed of the dangers posed by explosive hazards, and are aware of suspicous items.

In addition, UNMAS also works with the Government of Iraq to provide technical support to the Ministry of Interior and national mine action authorities with trainings on Explosive Ordnance Disposal/Improvised Explosive Device Disposal and Explosive Hazard First Responder.

In connection with the Danish support, the Danish Foreign Minister, Jeppe Kofod (pictured), stated:

”Denmark has been a long-time supporter for UNMAS and their important work in Iraq. It is my hope that the additional Danish support will facilitate the return of IDPs to areas previously taken by ISIL and help to stabilise Iraq. Denmark remains committed to the long-term stabilisation efforts in Iraq.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Iraq Senior Programme Manager, said:

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

The Government of Denmark is an essential contributor to UNMAS explosive hazard management activities in Iraq. This latest contribution brings to DKK 148 million (more than USD 22 million) the total amount of funds donated since 2016. Additional donations are planned for 2020 and 2021.

(Source: UN)

Denmark and UNITAD Sign Agreement to Enhance Investigative and Forensic Capacity in Iraq

The United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of Iraqi courts, judicial system and forensic capacity, with whom UNITAD works in the implementation of its mandate pursuant to Security Council resolution 2379 (2017).

The Danish contribution of approx. USD 800,000 (5 million DKK) will fund a training and mentoring programme (2020-2021) that UNITAD will deliver for investigative judges in key courts across the country, and forensic experts, as part of their ongoing cooperation with the Investigative Team.

The training programme will be informed by a comprehensive assessment of training needs, so that the developed training modalities are tailored to address specific challenges faced in Iraq.

Incoming UNITAD National Professional Officers, who work on an equal footing with international staff, will also benefit from the investigative and analytical training under this project, enabling them to get quickly up to speed with the work of the Investigative Team, and acquire new skills that can be employed in their daily activities.

In connection with the Danish support, the Danish Foreign Minister, Jeppe Kofod, stated:

“Important that we maintain focus on the long-term goals – not least in the present situation. It is my hope that the Danish support provided through UNITAD will strengthen transitional justice in Iraq, and thereby contribute to heal the wounds inflicted by ISIL on the Iraqi society. The Danish support for capacity building of the Iraqi judicial system will contribute to the ambitions voiced by both the Iraqi government and the people of Iraq for a society based on the rule of law”.

Special Adviser Karim A. A. Khan QC thanked Denmark for its support and stressed:

“That enhancing Iraqi capacities is part of UNITAD’s mandate and directly feeds into the Investigative Team’s work to ensuring accountability for ISIL individuals responsible for the most serious crimes and delivering justice to victims. Through holding fair trials, in which incontrovertible evidence is presented to national courts, can we expose the baseless ideology of ISIL, establish justice for victims from all Iraqi communities and prevent revisionism.”

Ultimately, by enhancing investigative and forensic capacities in Iraq, this project ensures the collection of evidence on the ground meets the highest international standards, and contributes towards strengthening rule of law in key areas impacted by the crimes committed by ISIL.

The Danish contribution to the UNITAD Trust Fund is provided through the Peace and Stabilization Fund as part of the Syria–Iraq Peace and Stabilization Program (2019-2021).

(Source: UN)

By Thomas Wright, for Brookings Institution. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

On October 6, 1980 Donald Trump was interviewed by Rona Barrett, one of America’s most famous gossip columnists, on NBC.

It was several weeks before Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in the presidential election and near the end of the Iran hostage crisis in which the Iranian regime took 52 American diplomats and citizens prisoner after the embassy was stormed and then held them for 444 days.

It was a long and meandering interview about Trump’s story to date (he was then 34).

About half way though, Barrett asked Trump if he could make America perfect how would he do it.

The full report can be read here.

Due to militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all public consular operations are suspended until further notice.  All future appointments are cancelled.

U.S. citizens are advised to not approach the Embassy.  The U.S. Consulate General in Erbil is open for visa and American Citizen Services appointments.

U.S. citizens in Iraq or those concerned about family in Iraq should contact the Department of State at +1-202-501-4444 or toll-free in the U.S. at 1-888-407-4747.

Actions to Take:

  • Do not travel to Iraq
  • Avoid the U.S. Embassy and areas of demonstrations
  • Monitor local and international media for updates

Assistance:

  • State Department – Consular Affairs
    888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

(Source: US Embassy)

Iraq, compared to neighbouring countries in the Middle East like Jordan and Lebanon, hosts the lowest number of immigrants relevant to the population. However, the country’s foreign population increased 338 per cent between 1990 and 2017, due largely to the influx of refugees from Syria.

Migration in northern Iraq is largely driven by conflict, while migration in southern Iraq is more often linked to livelihood factors such as the loss of arable land and water scarcity.

These, and other findings from the first Migration Profile for Iraq, were revealed on Thursday (19/12) during a press briefing at Baghdad’s Babylon Hotel. The Migration Profile was developed through a capacity-building process overseen by a Technical Working Group established by the Government of Iraq’s Ministries of Migration and Displacement; Interior; Foreign Affairs; Justice; Labour and Social Affairs; and Planning; as well as the Central Statistics Office alongside the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Migration Profile presents facts and figures about migration; it is the first-ever statistical overview of migration in Iraq and will help establish an evidence base that will influence national migration policies and strategies including a National Migration Strategy. In October 2019 IOM also completed the Migration Governance Indicator (MGI) assessment that measures national capacities across 90 governance indicators in six thematic areas.

“The Migration Profile is the result of the first-year meetings between Iraqi ministries and IOM. It will influence both near and far-reaching migration policies,” said Ahmed Rahim, Director of the Department of Foreign Immigration at the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration.

“The Migration Profile demonstrates the Government of Iraq’s commitment to harnessing evidence-based and whole-of-Government approaches towards strong migration governance” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “The Migration data it contains can be leveraged in years to come to mainstream migration into policies and strategies.”

The profile shows that patterns of out migration have shifted significantly since 2003. During the period between the Gulf War and 2003, the primary destination for Iraqis migrating abroad was Iran; after 2003, Jordan and Syria emerged as primary destinations. Europe became a major destination after 2014, with Sweden, Germany and the UK standing out as significant destination countries.

In recent years, internal displacement has been a prime concern. Displacement driven by the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) presents a peculiar case, in that it has provoked more internal displacement than international migration — in part because previous countries of refuge were in crisis themselves (Syria) or inaccessible (Jordan). Emigration as a result of ISIL’s presence has reached Turkey, Europe and Western countries, rather than former asylum countries (Iran, Jordan, Syria).

Other findings of the profile relate to the Iraqi diaspora; trends of irregular migration; Iraqi students studying abroad; and more. IOM has carried out similar studies in over 80 countries around the world using a standard approach to the research. The profile uses existing knowledge and literature; interviews with government and international organizations; publicly available quantitative data; and non-public data shared both by Iraqi authorities and international organizations.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The Ambassador of Iraq in London, Mr. Mohammad Jaafar Al-Sadr, has met Mr. Enzo Quattrociocche, the Secretary-General of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

During the meeting, they discussed the possibility of Iraq joining the bank. The Ambassador stressed the importance of moving forward with the implementation of Iraq’s economic development plans by supporting private sector, promoting investment projects and building capacities in the field of developing the banking system.

Mr. Quattrociocche stated that EBRD is ready to cooperate and support Iraq in its bid to become a member of the bank, indicating the advantages of this membership to Iraq, including the opportunity to benefit from global banking experiences to develop Iraq’ banking sector and obtain technical support, assistance that prepares the good environment to invest.

(Source: Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs)