From the U.S. Embassy in Iraq:

The U.S. State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees from Iraq, both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil.

Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad hasd advised all U.S. citizens of heightened tensions in Iraq and the requirement to remain vigilant.

Actions to Take:

  • Do not travel to Iraq
  • Avoid places known as U.S. citizen gathering points.
  • Keep a low profile
  • Be aware of your surroundings

Assistance:

U.S. Embassy Baghdad
Al-Kindi Street, International Zone, Baghdad
Telephone (during business hours)

From Iraq:  0760-030-3000;

From the United States:  301-985-8841
U.S. Citizen Emergency After-Hours Telephone (ask for the duty officer)

From Iraq:  0760-030-3000;

From the United States:  301-985-8841

E-mail: BaghdadACS@state.gov
Website: https://iq.usembassy.gov/

U.S. Consulate General Erbil
413 Ishtar, Ankawa Erbil, Iraq
Telephone (during business hours)

From Iraq:  0760-030-3227;

From the United States:  240-264-3467 extension 4554
U.S. Citizen Emergency After-Hours Telephone (ask for the duty officer)

From Iraq:  066-211-4554;

From the United States:  240-264-3467

E-mail: ErbilACS@state.gov
Website: https://iq.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/erbil/

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

(Source: US Embassy)

2.5 Million Iraqis and Businesses to Benefit from Improved Electricity Services

A new US$200 million World Bank project will provide increased and more reliable supply of electricity to about 2.5 million Iraqis and productive enterprises in the governorates of Basra, Al-Muthanna, Thi Qar, and Missan who currently suffer from frequent and long power cuts and rely on private or shared generators to cover the shortages within the public network.

The Electricity Services Reconstruction and Enhancement Project, approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors, will support the Government of Iraq’s efforts to improve the quality and reliability of electricity supply by reducing the capacity limitations in the electricity distribution and transmission network.

The project aims to support increased efficiency of electricity operations and management which is key to reducing the fiscal burden levied by the sector on Iraq’s budget, drawing resources away from other public sector needs such as reconstruction, health and education.

Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director, said:

The lack of access to reliable power has a significant impact on household well-being, business growth, and the capacity of the enterprise sector to create sustainable jobs for the growing numbers of youth entering the job market.

“Improved electricity supply will support job creation, including enhancing women’s ability to engage in income generating activities. It will also promote economic diversification and allow enterprises to increase their productivity, thus fostering inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity for the population of Iraq South region”.

The project will support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the electricity transmission and distribution grid including installation of new lines and power substations. In addition, the project will include installation of an Integrated Management Information Systems and customer call centers.

These activities will not only increase the network capacity to deliver electricity to the consumer premises, but will also support improvements in network operations efficiency and customer care such as reducing the duration of electricity outages, improving the accuracy in meter reading and billing records and fast response to electricity consumer concerns.

Paul Baringanire, World Bank Senior Energy Specialist and Project Team Leader, said:

Improved efficiency, transparency, and accountability of operations will not only improve the sector’s performance but also enhance the image and credibility of the sector institutions namely the Ministry of Electricity, the South Electricity Transmission Company, and the South Electricity Distribution Company with shareholders and electricity customers thus contributing to restoring citizen confidence and gaining support for sustained operations.”

(Source: World Bank)

EU-funded programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development – Launch of the Yarmouk Park Rehabilitation Project in Mosul

Mosul local authorities and citizens gathered in Al Yarmouk Park in West Mosul on 2 May 2019 to launch the rehabilitation works that will be conducted under the programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development.

The programme, which will target nine governorates, is funded by the European Union (EU) with €47.5 million over 4 years, and implemented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Along with the rehabilitation of damaged housing, public facilities and secondary infrastructure in conflict-affected areas, the recovery of open spaces and public amenities for citizens emerged as one of the key priorities listed in the Provincial Recovery Plans developed by the governorates of Nineveh, Salah al Din and Anbar, under the flagship Local Area Development Programme (LADP II) that was also funded by the EU and concluded in mid-2018. In the city of Mosul, the programme will be investing USD 2 million in Al Yarmouk Park and adjacent residential area.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, Mr. Tomas Reyes Ortega, stated:

“The rehabilitation of Al Yarmouk Park is a great example on how we can contribute to the quality of life in cities in inclusive and participative ways. I look forward to coming back in a couple of years and seeing this project become a reality as part of the reconstruction of Mosul to which the EU is firmly committed.”

Speaking on behalf of the Nineveh Crisis Cell, Dr. Qussay Al-Assaf, Advisor to Governor, stated:

“We support all the activities and projects carried out by the organizations within the governorate, including UN-Habitat. The agreement to launch the programme was recently signed in Erbil in the presence of 9 Iraqi governorates. In Nineveh, the EU-funded programme will be implemented in two phases: first in Mosul District and then in Tal Afar District.”

Qa’im Maqam of Mosul, Mr. Zuheer Al-Araji, said:

“We are pleased to be here today in such a place in the center of the city of Mosul that is truly in need of attention and care. I thank and appreciate the efforts and great cooperation between the service departments of Mosul Municipality and the departments of Sewerage and Water, besides the high-level of coordination with UN agencies. My thanks and appreciation to UN-Habitat for their presence in areas that really need housing rehabilitation assistance and today is for the parks rehabilitation.”

Head of Mosul Municipality, Mr Radhwan Ahmed Suliman, acknowledged the generous support of the European Union and spoke about the on-going one-day cleaning campaign that engaged more than 100 daily workers and 60 volunteers from Su’ad Mosuliya in a joint effort to remove garbage from the park and adjacent residential area:

“We are very pleased that UN-Habitat has chosen this area within low-income overcrowded areas that have not been visited by many This project is funded by the European Union organizations and thus not receiving much upgrading assistance. We strongly support this effort and these projects and, God willing, will be working alongside UN-Habitat in all future projects.”

Head of UN-Habitat Iraq Programme, a.i., Ms. Yuko Otsuki, said:

“The rehabilitation of Al Yarmouk Park will be the core of a wide range of public initiatives, environmental actions, cultural events, recreation and sport activities that will benefit Mosul citizens of all ages. In UN-Habitat, we believe that public space plays a crucial role in the creation of socio-economic value, improved health and quality of life in urban areas, as well as a unique opportunity to enhance social inclusion, cohesion and peace-building in cities affected by a recent conflict.”

The manager of the programme, Ms. Anna Soave stated that:

“Al Yarmouk Park has immediately drawn our attention because of its unique size and very dilapidated conditions, in a city where public green space per capita is notoriously well-below average and recommended standards. Public space is a vital component of a prosperous city because of its positive impact on its economy, environment, safety, health, and strong contribution to community cohesion. By involving youth in its redesign as a multi-functional space, Al Yarmouk Park has a strong potential to enhance civic identity, social interaction and cultural expression.”

A Yarmouk Cleaning Day was launched in the early morning, as a joint initiative of Mosul Municipality, UN-Habitat and Su’ad Mosuliya. Prior to embarking in the cleaning of the park and adjacent streets, municipal workers and volunteers attended risk education sessions delivered by UNMAS and IHSCO.

After the launching speeches, local officials and Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, Mr. Tomas Reyes Ortega took part to the ceremonial planting of two large palms, making the commencement of the works in the park, and were then invited to cheer schoolchildren from nearby schools engaged in a set of running competitions.

(Source: ReliefWeb)

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Conservatives in Iraq’s Najaf want to legislate religiosity

Hundreds of residents in Iraq’s Najaf province rallied and called for a new law that would “strengthen the sanctity” of the city of Najaf, where the Imam Ali Shrine, Shiite seminaries and authorities — most notably top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani — are based.

The heavy presence of clerics’ black and white turbans made it obvious the city’s conservatives were spearheading the April 7 demonstration. The protesters’ anger was evident by their expressions and the slogans they chanted.

Click here to read the full story.

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

6 questions you must ask when obtaining a second citizenship

Citizenship programs offer people a chance to obtain a second powerful nationality that allows them freedom of movement and security for their families, as well as a better way to safekeep their businesses and wealth.

However, many people decide to apply for these programs without carefully understanding the fine print. There are important aspects to each particular Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program understanding them can mean the difference between a citizenship approval or a rejection.

Below are some of the key points to be taken into account when choosing a citizenship program.

Have you ever been rejected visas before?

This may be the most important question to ask before embarking on a citizenship application process. If your citizenship consultant does not bring up this question, consider changing consultancy firms as soon as possible. Any past visa rejections are a primary concern for governments with CBI programs and the application will result in a rejection.   The governments will deny the citizenship if the due diligence reveals that the applicant had been rejected entry to any country which shares visa waver agreements with that particular CBI country, especially when it comes to UK and Schengen states.

What family members can you include under your application?

Including dependents is common, however, it is imperative that applicants know who they can include under the same application. Your citizenship consultant needs to be well versed when it comes to including family dependents. Lack of knowledge in this area can have consequences and will ultimately result in delays and extra money which can be avoided with proper advice.

Dependents are children, spouse and parents of the main applicant or of the spouse who are financially dependent on the main applicant. Children must be enrolled in full time studies and proof financial dependency on the parents. Currently, only one CBI program accepts siblings of the main applicant or the spouse, these are unmarried brothers or sisters regardless of their age.  These unmarried siblings cannot be previously divorced and cannot have children in order to qualify under the same application.

Each CBI program sets its own regulations for adding dependents. The citizenship consultant should be requesting information on the ages of the children and parents, as each program has different requirements. The date of birth of the applicant is important as, at the moment of applying, they should not surpass the minimum age by law. Also, they should find out whether the main applicant is planning to have kids in the future, because some programs such as St. Lucia do not contemplate including newborns after the citizenship has been issued.

Is your nationality banned from applying for the selected program? 

There are specific nationalities that are barred from applying for some citizenship via investment programs. For instance, St. Kitts and Nevis does not allow nationals of North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan to apply for its program. Therefore, applicants need to understand what the options are for them. Other programs do not restrict any nationalities in particular and take applications in a case by case basis, the results will purely depend on the main applicant’s source of funds and a clean track record.

What are your future travel plans?

Each country has a unique visa-free list which can help applicants narrow down the different programs of choice. Consequently, when looking for the correct CBI program, one should know which country they will be visiting frequently. For example, Grenada is the only country with a CBI program that allows visa-free access to China. So, if an individual has business in China, they might want to apply for the Grenadian citizenship. Furthermore, a Grenadian passport allows visa-on-arrival to the UAE, which is a great option for individuals who have business in the UAE.

If to live in Europe is a priority, then Cyprus is the best option that any investor can look for. Upon obtaining a Cypriot nationality, applicants will be able to live in any country part of the EU. They will also have access to world-class education and healthcare. Cyprus also grants visa-free access to over 170 countries including Canada, Australia, UK and the UAE.

Most CBI programs allow visa-free access to the Schengen states except for the Turkish citizenship.

What are the main documents required?

Mainly each submitted file requires applicants to present basic documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of address and medical examination. These documents can be quite easy to obtain but difficulties start when obtaining Police Clearance from their country of origin, their country of residence and any country they have resided in for 6 months in the last 10 years.

Understandably, many applicants cannot obtain police reports as their home countries are troubled with political distress, so they must provide an affidavit, which is a legal document that clearly justifies the reason for not being able to obtain the police report. However, not all CBI countries accept affidavits, which in this case an applicant is required to present a local lawyer’s reference letter that explains the reasons for not being able to obtain the police report from a particular country.

What financial information is required?

Primarily, the source of funds is the most crucial aspect of the application. The applicant can have clean criminal records but if the source of funds is dubious their citizenship will not be approved. One of the Government’s main concern when conducting the due diligence process is knowing how the applicant has generated his or her money and support documents must be presented justifying the same.

Once the due diligence report is concluded, the applicant needs to make the final payment to the Government. It is imperative that the applicant makes the payment from his own bank account or his company’s bank account not from a third party.

Bank transfers can be a complicated process nowadays, especially if the intermediary banks are in the United States. The citizenship consultancy company would need to liaise with the beneficiary bank in order to present the required documents for the funds to be cleared.

When applying for citizenship it is important to do exhaustive research on the citizenship processing companies, before you chose, and carefully investigate their track record. There are a lot of options on the internet, even some of them are listed on Governments websites, however very few of these have thorough experience in overcoming the challenges that a citizenship application can present.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the courier company DHL , in partnership with the Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCCC) in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) conducted a workshop on Getting Airports Ready for Disasters (GARD) for the period 14th to 18th Apr.

The workshop aimed to prepare airports personnel to handle the logistical situations in post-disasters. The five-day workshop provided training to 30 staff from Erbil and Sulaymaniyah International airports and employees from relevant government agencies.

The attendees jointly identified the areas that could potentially serve as key locations for disaster logistics operations in the two airports, the workshop also evaluated the airports’ capacities for processing high volumes of passengers, cargos and warehousing relief supplies.

The Director General of KRG Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, Ministry of Interior, Mr. Hoshang Mohamed said:

“We are very pleased with this partnership and we welcome this first-of-its kind initiative of “GARD” as it will further enhance our crisis management capacities to respond to disaster-affected people on time, through expediting and fast-tracking the importation and movement of relief items, and humanitarian assistance as well as the entry and exit of the humanitarian personnel. We extend our thanks to UNDP Iraq and DHL for conducting this programme”.

Vice President, Humanitarian Services of Deutsche Post DHL Group, Mr. Chris Weeks said:

“We at DHL see it over and over again – airports quickly get overwhelmed by the chaos of incoming relief aid, UN and NGO personnel, military organizations and the crowds of people trying to leave. Sometimes, humanitarian aids arrives faster than airport can arrange for it to get out, causing a massive bottleneck in the flow of relief logistics. Timing is critical during disasters and the more efficient an airport is at processing incoming aircraft, the faster aids can get out to those in need. We are really proud to conduct our first GARD workshop in Iraq”.

Officer in Charge of UNDP Iraq Mr. Vakhtang Svanidze stated that:

“The threat of natural disasters remain high. Recently  due to torrential rains, the country continues to witness large scale floods which have claimed lives, displaced people and destroyed properties. The Dam of Mosul poses significant risks to the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable communities along Tigris flood plain”.

Since 2009 nearly 50 GARD workshops have been held in 24 countries for nearly 1,160 trainees. In the Middle East, workshops were previously held in Tehran (2017), Almaty (2017), Aqaba (2016), Amman (2014), Yerevan (2013) and Beirut (2012). Through the joint work of UNDP and DHL, the GARD workshop is being conducted now in Iraq for the first time.

(Source: UNDP)

UN Women, Office of the President of the Republic of Iraq sign MoU to promote gender equality, empowerment of women

UN Women in Iraq and the Office of the President of the Republic of Iraq signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 15 April 2019 providing a framework of cooperation in areas of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The MoU, signed by UN Women Representative Dina Zorba and the Iraqi President’s Adviser for Gender and Civil Society, Ms. Khanim Latif, provides for cooperation in technical fields, research and advocacy.

UN Women and the Office of the President will cooperate in promoting enabling frameworks for the realisation of women’s rights as well as government-wide mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The MoU works also to promote sustainable institutional capacities to ensure Iraq’s alignment with its international human rights commitments.

In particular, the MoU seeks to ensure a gender-based response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a focus on building the capacity of women representatives to perform their role in the political and decision-making spheres. Furthermore, it provides for harmonising policy approaches in the areas of national reconciliation, peace building, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.

The MoU also aims to strengthen the database for women’s issues in order to inform and guide evidence-based advocacy. The effort includes enhancing the process of regularly producing gender statistics and cooperation in all stages of research, in addition to improving access to research findings and data by users, including women.

UN Women and the President’s Office will also collaborate in strengthening the momentum for the advancement of women’s agenda in Iraq through joint advocacy and outreach efforts. The two sides will work on informing and influencing the national discourse on the elimination of legislative, social and economic barriers for women’s realisation and recognition of their rights, including in the areas of women’s economic empowerment, participation in the decision-making process, ending gender-based violence and promoting women’s active participation in the political sphere.

In addition, the two sides will advocate for the establishment of a mechanism for women that is capable of coordinating the issues of women with the aim of ensuring the political, social, cultural and economic empowerment of women towards achieving gender equality. The signing ceremony was attended by Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Marta Ruedas and advisers to the Iraqi President.

(Source: UN)