Over 500 families have moved into the newly opened Shekhan camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern Iraq over the past week and hundreds more will move in in the coming days.

The camp has been constructed by a consortium of humanitarian partners with the support of multiple donors and will eventually provide shelter forsome 1,000 displaced families.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), with funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, contributed the lead technical role in camp design and construction, and provided the internal electrical network, gravelled roads, prefabricated buildings for administrative offices and a health center, and private kitchens for each family, including sinks and electrical connections.

IOM will also staff and manage the camp primary health care centre, which will be handicap accessible, and will provide psychosocial support to displaced families, particularly women and children. Activities will include psycho-social consultations, individual and group counselling, and opportunities for sports and recreation, including a playground area.

IOM also provided transport for displaced families to get to Shekhan, in coordination with the Dohuk Governorate Bureau of Relief and Humanitarian Affairs (BRHA), and a UNHCR multi-functional team, which jointly carried out the process of family selection. Most of the families were living in unfinished and abandoned buildings in Dohuk Governorate.

Shekhan was built under the guidance of Dohuk Governorate BRHA. Partners included IOM and the International Humanitarian Partnership, Technisches Hilfswerk and Action Against Hunger. UNHCR held a coordination role. The camp is now fully operational and will be officially handed over to Dohuk Governorate BRHA in mid-May.

Dohuk hosts the most IDPs of all Iraq governorates. Shekhan camp is the 16th IDP camp in the area administered by Dohuk Governorate and two additional camps are under construction. But there is still insufficient housing for the displaced population.

By Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The war against terrorism and a decrease in oil prices resulted in Iraq running a deficit in its 2015 budget. This has been accompanied by tensions in Iraq and neighboring countries due to military operations against the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL). The current environment has not, however, stopped the Ministry of Transport from moving forward on implementing planned projects.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Transport Minister Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi (also known as Bayan Jabr Solagh) said that the best way to overcome Iraq’s exceptional circumstances is to develop plans that are both realistic as well as sound. While conditions pose significant economic challenges and prohibit certain development projects, Zubeidi asserted that growth should not come to a halt, even amid the toughest challenges.

Rather, exceptional conditions impose different approaches to planning and action. Zubeidi’s ministry is continuing to complete major projects in the transportation sector, adopting special mechanisms and strategies to overcome the budget deficit and the unstable security situation.

Al-Monitor:  What are the Ministry of Transport’s strategies, and what are its priorities?

Zubeidi:  It is well known that the Ministry of Transport has huge requirements given its large projects. Coincidentally, the country has suffered a budget deficit and exceptional security conditions, which make the situation even more difficult. Practical and realistic plans have facilitated our tasks and allowed us to properly manage the ministry’s agenda. Our priorities are the completion of planned projects and finding other ways and means to overcome the budget deficit.

Al-Monitor:  What do you mean by “other ways and means”?

Zubeidi:  Investments and joint investments. The ministry never hesitated to put its projects out to tender for foreign companies, and this proved to be a great success. But the investment process is not easy. It is a double-edged sword if not properly handled. The Ministry of Transport’s projects are huge and expensive projects, and any mistake in retaining the right company or adopting an inappropriate plan might be disastrous.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Not Minding Their Own Business: US Draft Law Causes First Major Political Upset In Baghdad’s New Govt

A recent piece of proposed legislation sponsored by US Republicans has caused some of the biggest political splits in recent Iraqi history – both inside local politics and between Iraq and its American allies.

A piece of legislation, part of the US’ annual defence bill, has caused a furore in Iraq and the first really serious disagreement in the new Iraqi Parliament since its formation eight months ago.

The legislation is part of the US Republican party’s version of the a defence authorization bill and it basically proposes supplying direct military aid to the Iraqi Kurdish military and to Sunni Muslim fighters inside Iraq, bypassing the Iraqi government, currently dominated by Shiite Muslim interests. This would only happen if the Iraqi government doesn’t manage to create a Sunni force itself – and supply it with military aid – within three months.

The legislation suggests the US can then supply weapons and aid directly to the Sunni and Kurdish forces, bypassing Baghdad. And the US does this by describing the Sunni and Kurdish territories as “countries” inside Iraq, basically putting into action an older plan that suggests a “soft partition” of the country’s three main ethnic or religious groups.

Even if, some days, it looks like the country might be heading in that direction, Iraqis, and the Iraqi government, don’t like being told what to do in this manner.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and a number of his ministers denounced the plan and some prominent Shiite Muslim figures, such as the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, threatened US interests with violence. The military wing of al-Sadr’s supporters organised parades in two southern Iraqi cities in a demonstration of strength. And one of the best known female MPs, Hanan al-Fatlawi, a member of the State of Law coalition previously headed by al-Maliki, said that the US embassy in Baghdad should be closed and the US ambassador expelled.

UNICEF Announces the Results of the Family Survey on Water Usage

The UNICEF Iraq WASH programme, in cooperation with the Administration Institute/Ressafa –the Technical College, with support from the European Union, organized a conference at the Administration Institute/Ressafa to announce the final results of thepilot family survey on water usage.

The survey was conducted by the Institute in Najaf, Baghdad and Erbil governorates. It is part of the UNICEF-European Union Water Conservation Project to increase community awareness on water conservation and hygiene practices.

The conference was attended by Dr. Ali Al-Khateeb, the acting chief of UNICEF WASH, members of the higher ministerial committee chaired by the deputy secretariat general of the Council of Ministries, the advisors commission at the secretariat general of the Council of Ministries, the advisor of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Dean of the Technical College and other attendees including professors, specialists and researchers in the field of water conservation.

The dean of the Institute presented the survey final results and recommendations for changing community and household water usage behaviors. Specialists discussed water conservation and called for enacting and enforcing legislation on water usage.

Dr. Al-Khateeb said:

The family survey is a very important and pilot study; its results show the urgent need to raise public awareness across all of Iraq to improve water conservation and hygiene practices.”

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Quantitech Inc., Huntsville, Alabama, has been awarded a $9,999,908 firm-fixed-price contract to procure systems engineering, test and evaluation, and computer resources supporting the Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar Program Directorate (C-RAM) in Iraq and Afghanistan with capability integration with the Air and Missile Defense Planning and Control System.

Work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama, with an estimated completion date of May 5, 2016.

Bids were solicited via the Internet with one received.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

(Picture: Quantitech CEO, Sheila Brown)

The Basra Compact, a flagship partnership to revive the economy in southern Iraq

The authorities of Basra and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a flagship agreement, the Basra Compact, aiming at strengthening participatory and accountable governance and reviving the economic activity in the southern governorate, which is not just oil-rich but needs to invest in its human capacity and private sector development. Protecting the cultural and ecological heritage of the Mesopotamian Marshlands is also a priority.

Despite being the richest governorate and hosting the main port in Iraq, Umm Qasr—the only shipping hub in the country—Basra is one of the most affected by poverty and chronic unemployment with 16.1% of the population living below the poverty line of US$ 2.5 per day and facing staggering challenges in terms of access to services.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Basra authorities outlines future cooperation in the areas of decentralization, financial management and budget execution, environment protection, private sector development including micro, small and medium enterprises, and support to the governorate’s 5-year strategic planning.

“Basra’s cultural heritage and natural resources represent an unmatched wealth of opportunities that can actively contribute to the recovery of Iraq’s economy and national stabilization strategy,” noted Sabah Al-Bazouni, who leads this initiative as Head of the Provincial Council.

“This agreement is enhanced by a series of consultations and mutual exchange of information to capitalize on natural resources being progressively reinvested towards the advancement of human development,” he said.

By John Lee.

The State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for Ammunition and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $395 million.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

The Government of Iraq has requested a possible sale of 5,000 81mm High Explosive Mortar Ammunition, 684,000 M203 40mm High Explosive Ammunition, 532,000 MK19 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose Ammunition, and 40,000 155mm High Explosives.

Also includes small arms ammunition, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $395 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner. This proposed sale directly supports the Government of Iraq and serves the interests of the people of Iraq and the United States.

This proposed sale of additional ammunition is critical in providing continued combat power capability as Iraq continues its fight against an organized insurgency of extremists in Iraq. Iraq will have no difficulty absorbing this additional ammunition into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this additional ammunition will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractors will be American Ordinance in Middletown, Iowa and AMTEC in Janesville, Wisconsin. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this sale will not require U.S. Government representatives or contractors to travel to Iraq.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

 

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has published the Monthly Export Report for April, 2015.

The detailed report provides a summary of crude oil exports in April through the Kurdistan pipeline network to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey.

The report also indicates the volumes provided to SOMO by the KRG in line with the KRG’s agreement with the Federal Government.

Please click here to download the full report.

(Source: KRG)

By Dr Natalie Schoon, Islamic finance expert.

This is an extract from an article originally published by Nina Iraq, and is reproduced here with permission.

At a time when women generally had little to no rights, the Quran introduced equality between genders.

Women were not owned by their husbands, but were considered independent and could have their own property. Equally, the fact that they had (and have) the right to a share of any inheritance was put beyond dispute.

In fact, the inheritance rules are very strict. First, funeral expenses and any outstanding debt is paid from the estate. After that, a Muslim is entitled to leave one third of their estate to any person or charitable organisation as they desire by will or final testament.

The remaining two thirds is allocated to heirs as outlined in Surrat al-Nisa (the women), ayats (verses) 11, 12, and 176 and is summarised in the table below.

In this context it is generally accepted that parents refer to both biological parents as well as adoptive parents and children refers to both own and adopted children.

Please click here to view the full article.

(Quran image via Shutterstock)