The dinar, bolstered by remittances from Serbs living in the European Union, investments and purchases of euro-denominated treasury bonds, has …

The dinar EURRSD=, bolstered by remittances from Serbs living in the European Union, investments and purchases of euro-denominated treasury …

Joint statement by HR/VP Mogherini and Iraqi Foreign Minister Alhakim on the EU-Iraq relations and regional cooperation

The European Union and Iraq strongly affirm their shared commitment to peace and stability in the wider Middle East and call for the de-escalation of the current tensions in the region, reminding that the risks and the consequences may affect Iraq, the region and beyond.

The EU and Iraq share a common vision for the region and wish to proactively support actions and initiatives to promote dialogue instead of confrontation, aiming to build a cooperative framework based on shared interests. Cooperation is the strongest foundation of a long-term regional security, stability and sustainable development.

The European Union remains committed towork together with the Iraqi government to promote these values and is firmly of the view that the Iraqi proposal of a regional conference merits full support and engagement.

Iraq and EU reaffirm their strong bond of partnership and friendship, deepened in recent years during the joint cooperation to defeat Da’esh. The EU highly values Iraq’s contribution and sacrifices in the war against terrorism and supports its efforts to eradicate all forms of terrorist ideology.

Iraq strongly appreciates EU’s support to the Government of Iraq and to the Iraqi people as well as the EU’s commitment to peace and stability in the Middle East through diplomatic engagement.

The 2018 EU Strategy for Iraq defines the mechanism to support the political and economic priorities of the partnership with the Government. The entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Iraq (PCA) in August 2018 sets the legal framework for this partnership.

Both sides look forward to swift implementation, which will reinforce cooperation on a range of topics of mutual interest, including democracy and human rights, economic and trade matters, energy, security, transport, environment and migration-related issues.

The EU and the Government of Iraq will continue to work together to achieve the objectives of the Conference for Iraq Reconstruction held in Kuwait in February 2018 to provide a better future for the Iraqi people, based on improved governance and inclusive economic development.

Since 2014, the EU has provided €1.2 billion in humanitarian, stabilisation, development, and security cooperation, which is the best testimony of its long term commitment to a strategic partnership with Iraq.

(Source: EU)

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

The European Union (EU) – via the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis – adopted a €100 million new assistance package to support the resilience of refugees, internally displaced person (IDP) host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

This will be done through the strengthening of public service delivery systems, improved access to higher education, and improved child protection services.

With this new package €1.6 billion out of a total of €1.8 billion mobilised by the EU Trust Fund have now been turned into financing concrete actions helping refugees and host countries alike.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented:

“The EU delivers on its commitments. With these additional €100 million of assistance, the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis continues to support refugees to become increasingly economically self-reliant. Through access to income generating opportunities, they are able to take their livelihoods in their own hands, provide for themselves, and preserve their dignity.

“At the same time we are supporting host communities and Syria’s neighbours in their effort to expand their economies while coping with challenges related to the conflict which is still ongoing”.

The newly adopted €100 million aid package consists of the following actions:

  • €55 million to support the resilience of refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €28.4 million for access to higher education for refugees and vulnerable host youth in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €12.5 million to provide protection services to children and women victim of gender based violence in Lebanon;
  • €3.6 million to continue and strengthen the Trust Fund’s horizontal monitoring and evaluation framework.

This assistance package has been adopted by the EU Trust Fund’s Operational Board, which brings together the European Commission, fifteen EU Member States, and Turkey. Observers of the Operational Board include members of the European Parliament, representatives from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the World Bank, and the Syria Recovery Trust Fund.

The EU Trust Fund is now in its fifth year of implementation, but the Syria crisis is far from being over. Over time, the needs have changed and the Trust Fund has evolved from providing early recovery assistance focusing on addressing basic needs of those affected by the Syria crisis to equipping refugees and local communities with tools and skills for greater self-reliance.

The Trust Fund also focuses on reinforcing the national systems for public service delivery to meet refugee and local community needs in the longer term. Currently 67 projects have been contracted to implementing partners on the ground.

(Source: EU)

EU Provides Additional EUR 2M to IOM Iraq for Critical Infrastructure Improvements in Camps

Five years after the onset of the ISIL crisis and the subsequent massive internal displacement, over half a million Iraqis continue to live in camps.

The European Union (EU) has awarded an additional EUR 2 million to IOM in Iraq to make critical infrastructure improvements in camps for internally displaced persons. This brings the total EU humanitarian contribution IOM Iraq has received in 2019 to EUR 5 million.

With this additional allocation, in coordination with the Government of Iraq and local authorities, IOM will be able to improve the living conditions of camp residents. IOM will rehabilitate deteriorating road and drainage networks in three Jad’ah camps, near Mosul in Ninewa governorate.

The Jad’ah camps currently host over 8,600 households, around 35,000 individuals, the majority from the districts of Hatra, Mosul, Al-Ba’aj and Telafar in Ninewa. These families are among the most vulnerable in Iraq; return to their areas of origin is not feasible in the near future for a variety of reasons, including damage to their houses, continued insecurity, limited access to employment opportunities, and limited basic services in their hometowns.

“While many displaced families have been able to return, we cannot forget about those who remain in camps. Ensuring that those displaced by fighting have access to humanitarian assistance remains a priority for the EU in Iraq,” said Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

During the height of the 2014–2017 crisis, IOM and humanitarian partners in Iraq developed camps to house tens of thousands of families fleeing ISIL, often constructed quickly due to pressing emergency circumstances.  Infrastructure in those camps has since become worn and needs upgrades and repair.

“With our contribution we hope to improve the living conditions of Iraqis who are still in protracted displacement, and we encourage other partners in the humanitarian community to do the same. In 2019, we look forward to continuing to address these pressing needs in partnership with IOM,” Commissioner Stylianides added.

This humanitarian contribution by the EU will complement the previous allocation of EUR 3 million, received in March 2019, being used to conduct critical maintenance activities in camps across Iraq, to replace basic household items for camp populations and provide basic relief kits, including kitchen sets, blankets and mattresses.

“The conditions in many camps in Iraq have worsened over the last year due to natural wear-and-tear and limited investments. Camps have remained in service for longer than initially expected and now need upkeep and improvement,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

“This additional allocation from the EU will enable IOM to provide much needed support in some of the most populous camps, which are housing displaced families who are among the most vulnerable, with no immediate or medium-term prospect of returning home.”

Return is especially difficult for vulnerable families, including those in a situation of protracted displacement, who after years of displacement have exhausted their resources and are not able to afford to rebuild their homes.

The EU, through its EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department, and IOM Iraq have been in a strategic partnership to provide camp management, camp maintenance, infrastructure upgrades and shelter and non-food items response in and out of camps in Iraq since 2014, with a total budget of over EUR 36 million, assisting altogether more than 700,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries.

Both organizations continue to play a leading role in advocating for continued support to families in protracted displacement while coordinating to find longer-term solutions for these internally displaced populations.

Across Iraq, more than 1.6 million Iraqis continue to be displaced following the conflict with ISIL. Of those who were displaced, more than 4.2 million have been able to return to their areas of origin, according to IOM Iraq’s Displacement Tracking Matrix.

For figures and analysis on displacement in Iraq please visit: http://iraqdtm.iom.int/

(Source: IOM)

Farming families in northern Iraq’s Nineveh Governorate will benefit from a European Union contribution of €15 million to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to recover agricultural livelihoods. The area, which includes the city of Mosul, was known as the country’s ‘breadbasket’ before conflict caused widespread damage and displacement.

This project is expected to directly benefit almost 10,000 vulnerable farming families (around 60,000 people), as well as flow-on benefits for local service providers and labourers.

“As part of the EU’s commitment to the whole of Iraq, supporting the regions so tragically devastated by the recent conflict remains a high priority. By reviving agriculture in Nineveh, a key sector of the economy, this new project will help communities and returnees in rural areas, increasing their income and employment opportunities,” said Ramon Blecua, European Union Ambassador to Iraq.

“We are grateful to the European Union for this generous contribution to help us rehabilitate key agricultural facilities and equipment. Getting these services operational again will be a big help for farmers and local businesses,” said Mustapha M. Sinaceur, FAO Representative a.i. in Iraq. “Creating jobs in the heartland of agriculture, where so many jobs depend on the rich soils of Nineveh Governorate, is vital for community stabilization,” he said.

The impact of conflict on the agricultural sector has been devastating and includes damage to water systems, irrigation facilities and other agricultural infrastructure, disruption of value chains and losses of personal assets, crop and livestock production, and food supplies.

Since the Iraqi government announced the defeat of Islamic State, also known as Da’esh, a year ago, many people have returned, encouraged by the efforts to ensure a secure and safe environment. However, some areas still lack basic services and job opportunities for both returnees and those who remained.

FAO and the EU working together for family farmers

The EU-funded project supports smallholder farming families to diversify incomes, increase resilience, and provide nutritious and healthy diets.

The project will support vulnerable smallholder farmers to resume vegetable production, introduce efficient irrigation water use and management, encourage agri-food processing, improve small-scale dairy processing and marketing, and boost animal fodder production and conservation.

Women, in particular, will be supported to participate in home-based vegetable and dairy production and processing. Unemployed young agriculture graduates will be encouraged to benefit from training to gain employment as agri-food processors, farmer field school and farmer business school facilitators, community animal health workers, market information system operators, and food security and nutrition data collectors and analysts.

Together, these activities will respond to families’ immediate needs for food and essential non-food items as well as restoring agricultural livelihoods that generate income and employment over the longer term.

At the same time, the project aims to restore vital government infrastructure and support services to the agriculture sector that have been destroyed, damaged, or looted.

The project is an EU contribution to the UN’s Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP) in Iraq. It is part of a larger package of support (€ 184.4 million euros) the EU has contributed to support stabilization and humanitarian efforts undertaken by the UN in support of the Government of Iraq since 2016.

FAO’s response in Iraq

Under the Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan 2019, FAO is working to ensure rural families have the resources to re-establish and secure their agricultural livelihoods and build their resilience into the future. FAO’s work, in close coordination with the Iraqi government, supports families returning to retaken areas, internally displaced families, host communities and refugees from Syria.

(Source: FAO)

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)

Top Mountain LLC hosted the first annual Business Canvas Erbil conference which was attended by 120 participants and took place in the Dedeman hotel.

The conference was funded by the European Union and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through GIZ.

The event was also sponsored by GroFin Iraq, a financing organization that provides loans of up to $2 million to SMEs in Iraq.

The goal of the conference was to inform the audience about the future of economic development in the Kurdistan Region and promote the services of Top Mountain Business Incubator.

Throughout the conference, speakers and panelists reviewed the challenges and opportunities related to the job market and entrepreneurship.

During his presentation on the future of the startup ecosystem in Iraq, one of the Co-founders of Top Mountain explained that within the next few years startups in Iraq will begin to rapidly multiply and grow as financing and technical skills become more widely available.

This predication is based on the rapid growth in startups that has occurred throughout the MENA region over the last 3 years. Some of the key conclusions reached by panelist and speakers are that companies in Iraq must expand their internship programs to help train the next generation of skilled workers.

Panelists also noted that lack of access to finance is the most critical challenge to SME growth. Despite the challenges facing businesses in Iraq, most of the attendees and panelists remain optimistic and anticipate a bright future for Iraq’s economy.

(Source: Top Mountain LLC)