Awareness is key to flattening the COVID-19 curve in Iraq

The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Iraq, today began a major COVID-19 awareness-raising campaign targeting people living in high-risk and heavily affected areas in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

The campaign will mobilize more than 250 community volunteers to deliver critical information, education and communications materials to approximately 6 million people living in 10 heavily populated districts for 4 weeks from 29 June to 28 July 2020.

“Health is the responsibility of all, and raising people’s awareness is essential to containing the aggressive spread of COVID-19,” said Dr Adham R. Ismail, WHO Representative in Iraq. “WHO, the Ministry of Health, partners and donors are working hand in hand to fight this pandemic, and until a vaccine is developed we have to unite our efforts to flatten the curve and keep our communities healthy and safe,” he added.

The campaign will use mobile screens, booths and mobile medical clinics to display WHO educational videos and audio messages on a variety of protective and disinfection measures. State and private radio and TV channels will support the campaign with daily messages for the month. In addition personal protection packages containing masks, hand sanitizers, campaign slogan T-shirts and caps, COVID-19 awareness-raising flyers and other educational materials will be distributed to people in public places, main streets and bazaars.

Iraq recently reported a significant increase in the number of cases in Baghdad after lockdown measures were eased nationwide. Health authorities have tied the increase in numbers to increased testing capacity and improved active surveillance and weak adherence of people living in crowded districts to adopting protective measures as recommended by WHO and the Ministry of Health, such as practising good hand hygiene and social distancing and wearing masks.

The campaign includes support from key religious figures who have mobilized thousands of mosques in the capital to disseminate audio messages. “With no cure yet but prevention, we have to continue educating our people on the importance of following the health advice of WHO and the national health authorities to save our lives and protect our health workers,” a cleric attending the campaign opening in Sadir City, where the vast slums of eastern Baghdad are located, commented.

“WHO is aware of the challenging impact of the lockdown and movement restrictions on the limited and daily income which families in many areas in Baghdad earn. However, the Organization urges all individuals to follow safety measures and wear masks in gatherings and public places, keep hands clean, and pratise social distancing to stop transmission of the virus,” Dr Adham stressed.

WHO would like to extend its thanks to the Government of Kuwait and the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) for co-funding this campaign, and to WHO’s implementing partner the United Iraqi Medical Society for supporting its implementation.

(Source: WHO)

By John Lee.

A recent contribution of USD2.8 million by the European Union has provided immediate relief to 90,000 vulnerable people -half of them children – in emergency camps in Salamiya, Hamam al Alil and Jeda’a 1 and 5 IDP camps within Ninawa governorate.

Only 39 per cent of Iraq’s population have access to safely managed drinking water. The situation is particularly dire for thousands of vulnerable families living in camps and who depend on humanitarian support for their survival.

“The generous contribution from the EU enabled UNICEF to continue trucking in safe water for drinking and cooking. This helped to protect the health of children and their families from dangerous diseases, including Acute Watery Diarrhea and Cholera, both which can result from the consumption of unsafe water,” said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

Funds were also used to support appropriate sanitation facilities and maintaining a clean and hygienic environment through care maintenance and waste management, water quality monitoring and distribution.

Iraqi and non-Iraqi children continue to be vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation and in need of protection prevention and response services in both camp and non-camp settings. In addition, many of the children in former conflict areas do not have birth certificate and other civil document, which is a legacy of conflict and upheaval in Iraq. This has restricted their ability to move out of camps and to access to social services like health, education and social protection.

Thanks to the EU’s longstanding support, UNICEF has also been able to:

  • repatriate 200 foreign children back to their countries of origin;
  • provide psychosocial services to 4,235 children (2125 girls);
  • legal assistance to 596 children (188 girls) in contact with the law;
  • A further 1,107 children (373 girls) received birth registration and civil documentation.

(Source: UN)

UNESCO and ICCROM (The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) sign an agreement on capacity building for the reconstruction of Mosul’s cultural heritage.

ICCROM, through its Regional Conservation Office in Sharjah (UAE), will provide a two-year capacity building programme for professionals and craftspeople to contribute to the reconstruction of Mosul’s Old City.

This programme is possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the European Union and is part of the UNESCO initiative to Revive the Spirit of Mosul.

This ICCROM-UNESCO partnership aims at strengthening the expertise of local young professionals and craftspeople in order to equip them with the required skills for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Old City and, as a result, ensure long-term livelihood opportunities.

The programme targets both young professionals from various disciplines such as architecture, engineering or urban planning, and craftspeople such as masons, carpenters, or stone carvers. Young professionals will be trained on heritage management and conservation, providing them with technical competencies needed to participate in the physical reconstruction of the city.

The programme will also prepare a number of skilled building craftspeople to contribute towards the long-term reconstruction needs of the Old City, taking into consideration the protection, revival and evolution of Mosul’s heritage values.

The capacity building programme will be implemented though a practical on-the-job training modality where trainees will actively participate in the reconstruction of the city’s historic landmarks and houses, and will receive a stipend.

The institutional capacity building scheme falls into the framework of the Revive the spirit of Mosul initiative, UNESCO’s response for the recovery of one of Iraq’s iconic cities. The initiative aims at contributing to community reconciliation and peace building through the recovery of the living environment and rehabilitation of the city’s heritage sites.

The initiative places special emphasis in empowering the population as agents of change involved in the process of rebuilding their city through culture and education. This partnership between UNESCO and ICCROM will reinforce local expertise that can participate in the reconstruction, ensuring both ownership and long-term livelihood opportunities for the people of Iraq.

This ICCROM-UNESCO partnership will specifically support the UAE funded project Reviving the Spirit of Mosul by rebuilding its historic landmarks namely the Al-Nouri Mosque and its Al-Hadba Minaret, as well as the Al-Tahera Church and Al-Saa’a Church and European Union funded project Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities.

(Source: UN)

The European Union and UNITAD Sign Agreement to support Digitization of Evidence of ISIL crimes in Iraq

The United Nation Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and the European Union (EU) have announced the signing of a Contribution Agreement through which the EU will fund a project to support the digitization and archiving of evidentiary materials of ISIL crimes held by Iraqi authorities.

The EU’s contribution of 3.5 million EUR to this project represents the largest extrabudgetary contribution received by UNITAD to date.

Through this project, UNITAD will provide technical assistance and support to national authorities and those in the Kurdistan Region, to establish a comprehensive, indexed inventories of evidence relevant to ISIL crimes committed in Iraq.

This will strengthen the evidentiary basis for UNITAD and Iraqi national authorities in developing comprehensive case-files supporting domestic proceedings brought against ISIL members for crimes that may constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, in line with international standards.

UNITAD is implementing this project with support from the government of Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi National Coordinating Committee. As an initial step, UNITAD will conduct detailed mapping of existing evidentiary material, before developing a detailed digitization plan.

Special Adviser Karim A. A. Khan QC (pictured), Head of UNITAD, thanked the EU for its generous support and underlined:

“The preservation and organization of evidentiary material in relation to ISIL crimes will serve to deepen the evidential foundations available for ISIL prosecutions. By establishing a comprehensive documentary record of these acts, we also contribute to global efforts to promote peace and security by ensuring that the ideologically bankrupt nature of ISIL is exposed.”

The Special Adviser added that doing all this will help ensure justice and that the gravity of these crimes – and the sacrifices made by Iraqi citizens – are not forgotten. He concluded:

“The victims, survivors – and indeed humanity – deserve no less. Accordingly, I record my gratitude to the EU for its generous contribution and to the Government of Iraq for its support of this project.”

The EU funding for the project will run for 18 months, starting on March 26, 2020.

(Source: EU)

The Council of the European Union has extended the mandate of the EU Advisory Mission in support of Security Sector Reform in Iraq (EUAM Iraq) until 30 April 2022.

The mandate, which was due to expire on 17 April 2020, was prolonged following the assessment of Iraqi needs. The mission will continue to provide advice and expertise at strategic level on the implementation of civilian aspects of Iraq’s security sector reform.

Moreover, EUAM Iraq will for the first time set up a project cell for identifying and implementing projects. The project cell will also play a key role in coordinating, facilitating and providing advice on projects implemented by EU member states and partner countries.

EUAM Iraq is based in Baghdad, and the mission’s overarching task is to support coherent implementation of the civilian related aspects of the Iraqi National Security Strategy and the security sector reform. This process, supported by several international partners, involves support to institutional reform and efforts to help counter terrorism (including countering violent extremism) and organised crime, with specific reference to border management, financial crime in particular corruption, money laundering and trafficking of cultural heritage goods.

EUAM Iraq is mandated to advise officials of the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Ministry of Interior who are responsible for driving the reform. The mission also regularly conduct visits at regional and provincial levels in support of Iraqi efforts to strengthen countrywide coordination as it relates to civilian security sector reform.

The Mission was launched on 16 October 2017 following a request from the Government of Iraq for support.

(Source: EU)

Duhok will soon have its first solar energy park in a major step towards becoming a low-carbon governorate, setting an example on sustainable renewable energy to follow in Iraq.

On 04 February 2020, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a letter of agreement with the Governorate of Duhok to establish a pilot solar park that will provide a minimum of two megawatts of electricity within two years.

The European Union (EU) provided US$2 million of funding for this project under the UNDP programme “Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development.

Governor of Duhok, Mr. Farhad Atrushi, said:

Our commitment to take climate action, deliver affordable, clean energy to the citizens and address electricity shortages remains as strong as ever. Under the Duhok Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), we pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“Establishing the first solar park in Duhok will contribute to achieving this goal and meet the needs of the market. We are grateful to the EU and UNDP for helping to make this happen. We look forward to purposeful partnerships with the private sector for green energy for present and future generations.

Duhok experiences serious deficits in electricity and has over 1000 electricity generators that are causing chronic air and noise pollution. According to the Sustainable Energy Action Plan that was developed under the Local Area Development Programme (LADP II), Duhok foresees the installation of solar parks to provide up to 40 megawatts of clean electricity by 2030.

Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Ambassador Martin Huth, said:

“This intervention will not only improve access to energy for the population in Duhok Governorate but will also ensure that this energy is green. In Europe, we are strongly determined to tackle climate change and succeed in our recently launched green deal, becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. And I am delighted that we are able to support KRI in its own sustainable energy deal”.

Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Ms. Zena Ali-Ahmad, said:

“We are encouraged by the Governorate of Duhok’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and providing green energy to its citizens. Establishing a solar park will stimulate the economy through private sector investments, create more jobs in green economy, and above all reduce pollution. The project will represent the first introduction of solar energy supply on such a scale in Iraq.”

The programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development aims at contributing to the stability and socio-economic development of Iraq by enhancing democratic governance at the local level. It is working to improve the ability of selected governorates to efficiently manage local government and public services.

Economic growth and job creation are prioritized, with a focus on green projects, involving youth and women, in addition to enhancing the living conditions of returnees and in conflict affected areas.

The programme fact sheet can be downloaded through this link: https://bit.ly/2Wlw17e

(Source: UNDP)

By John Lee.

On 11 December 2019, Christoph Buik was appointed as new head of mission for the European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM Iraq). He will take up his duties on 1 January 2020.

Christoph Buik, a German national, is currently Director of the UN Standing Police Capacity. Previously, he was Police Commissioner for the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia. He has long experience in international peacekeeping and peace building operations.

He will take over from Markus Ritter, who has held the post since October 2017.

The decision was taken by the Political and Security Committee on 11 December 2019.

EUAM Iraq is based in Bagdad and contributes to the implementation at strategic level of a comprehensive strategy countering terrorism and organised crime with specific reference to border management, financial crime, money laundering and the trafficking of cultural heritage. The mission works in coordination with key international actors operating in Iraq, including the NATO mission in Iraq.

The mission was launched on 16 October 2017 to support the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Iraqi National Security Programme. This programme aims at building state institutions capable of consolidating security, peace and preventing conflicts under the rule of law, and outlines a number of threats to national security, including terrorism, corruption and political instability.

Please click here to read Christoph Buik’s CV

(Source: European Council)

By John Lee.

On 11 December 2019, Christoph Buik was appointed as new head of mission for the European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM Iraq). He will take up his duties on 1 January 2020.

Christoph Buik, a German national, is currently Director of the UN Standing Police Capacity. Previously, he was Police Commissioner for the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia. He has long experience in international peacekeeping and peace building operations.

He will take over from Markus Ritter, who has held the post since October 2017.

The decision was taken by the Political and Security Committee on 11 December 2019.

EUAM Iraq is based in Bagdad and contributes to the implementation at strategic level of a comprehensive strategy countering terrorism and organised crime with specific reference to border management, financial crime, money laundering and the trafficking of cultural heritage. The mission works in coordination with key international actors operating in Iraq, including the NATO mission in Iraq.

The mission was launched on 16 October 2017 to support the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Iraqi National Security Programme. This programme aims at building state institutions capable of consolidating security, peace and preventing conflicts under the rule of law, and outlines a number of threats to national security, including terrorism, corruption and political instability.

Please click here to read Christoph Buik’s CV

(Source: European Council)

The Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to Brussels Mr. Sadiq Al-Rakabi received a delegation from the European Investment Bank.

They discussed ways of resuming negotiations between the two sides on the framework agreement to be signed between Iraq and the European Investment Bank.

The Bank’s funding and support for private sector projects will contribute to stimulating intra-trade between Iraq and ITU Member States, and provide many vacancies for Iraqi university graduates.

On his part, the head of the delegation of the European Investment Bank stressed the importance of Iraq, its position to the European Union, and their appreciation for the difficult circumstances and challenges, indicating their readiness to start negotiations again and provide assistance to Iraq in the common interests.

The two sides agreed to hold a second expanded meeting to discuss the draft framework agreement.

(Source: Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Euro-Med Monitor launches advocacy campaign to stop the bloodshed against peaceful protesters in Iraq

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has sent letters to the European Union and the French and German governments, urging them to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to stop the use of lethal force against ongoing popular protests, and to immediately stop the use of violence against peaceful protestors.

The Geneva-based organization said in a statement that it had sent letters to Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and German Foreign Minister Haikou Massu, briefing them on the bloody security campaigns against protesters calling for the overthrow of the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi for failing to tackle corruption and solve the issues of power outages and unemployment in Iraq.

The Euro-Med expressed its grave concern over the ongoing violence and repression by Iraqi authorities which was made possible by the agreements signed between the Iraqi government and the European Union against popular protests over the past two months.

In its letter to the Iraqi government, the Euro-Med called for an immediate and serious investigation into the killings by security forces, calling for their withdrawal from areas of contact with protesters, and for ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The organization called for the release of detainees detained at the protests, compensation for all victims of violations for the illegal use of force by security forces and adopting effective steps to confirm the Iraqi government’s commitment to freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by international and domestic laws.

Since the protests erupted on October 1, the Euro-Med has documented the deaths of more than 363 protesters by security forces and snipes, as well as the injury of more than 15,000 others for expressing their opinions, as guaranteed by the Iraqi Constitution and international agreements to protect the right to freedom of peaceful opinion and assembly.

The Euro-Med said its teams documented horrific details of killings and abductions of unarmed demonstrators, journalists, human rights activists and observers, and monitored a series of security campaigns organized by Iraqi police, security forces and military formations against demonstrations, especially in the provinces of Southern Iraq. The organization monitored the closure of several media outlets, most recently on November 24, as the Iraqi government issued a decision to close the offices of 8 television channels, and 4 other media outlets for 3 months for allegedly violating “the codes of professional conduct.”

In a letter to the European Union, the Euro-Med said the French government continues to assist Iraqi internal security forces by providing them with military support and training, including weapons used to deal with peaceful demonstrations. The Geneva-based group noted that Germany too extended in September the training of the German mission (Bundeswehr) of the Iraqi local troops for a year.

The organization added in its letter to the German Foreign Minister, “We find it disturbing that the member states of the European Union continue to help the Iraqi authorities and have not yet considered to benefit from this assistance at least to ensure respect for human rights.”

The Euro-Med pointed out that between 2014 and 2018, Iraq was the main country buying arms from the Czech Republic while during the same period, France provided 8.6% of arms imports to the Middle East, including Iraq.

The Euro-Med stated that although the EU imposed an embargo on arms exports to Iraq in 2003, in 2004 it adopted the Common Position 2004/553/CFSP, which authorized the sale, supply, transfer, or export of weapons and related materials required by the newly established Government of Iraq.

In its letter to the French Foreign Minister, the Euro-Med said that since the outbreak of the Iraqi protests, Paris has not reduced its military assistance nor taken necessary punitive measures against the Iraqi authorities to curb its use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, noting that this unfortunate slowdown could make France complicit in such tragic events taking place in Iraq.

The Euro-Med called on the EU to consider re-imposing the arms embargo, even partially, to ensure that military training and arms exports from EU member states are not used to commit new violations against peaceful protests.

The organization stressed the need for the European Union to consider the use of its assistance to Iraq in order to ensure that the government of Abdul-Mahdi complies with its responsibilities towards non-violent protests and to stop use of force against demonstrators.

The Euro-Med called on the European Union to pressure the Iraqi government to show adequate respect for human rights in Iraq, in addition to pledging not to use EU aid and military supplies to suppress peaceful protests.

The Euro-Med concluded by calling on the French government to suspend the training of personnel and other forms of assistance of the Iraqi government until it abides by its responsibilities towards non-violent protests, stop all forms of use of force against them, and open immediate and serious investigations into the brutal use of violence against them in the last two months and pledge to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with Iraqi and international laws.

(Source: Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor)