The World Health Organization (WHO) extends its gratitude to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) for the generous contribution of US$ 2.5 million to increase the health security and resilience of Syrian refugees living in Iraq.

In 2018, Iraq continued to host Syrian refugees. It is estimated that about 250,000 Syrian refugees are currently residing in the three governorates of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) namely Erbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah, the majority of which (64%) lives with the hosting communities.

“There is an urgent need to support the local health authorities in KRI to ensure that Syrian refugees here have access to proper health services,” said Dr. Adham R. Ismail, Acting WHO Representative in Iraq. “Providing comprehensive primary, secondary, referral, and outbreak prevention and response services in the three refugee governorates is a WHO priority for the coming phase; it will indirectly improve the resilience of the refugees and host communities against potential public health emergencies,” he added.

Syrian refugees in Iraq have been given free access to primary health care services whether through camp-based primary health care centers ((PHCC) for refugees living in camps or public health facilities specified for those living with the host communities.

These services have been provided by the directorates of health of Erbil, Dohuk, and Suleimaniya in collaboration with WHO and health partners. However, the mass internal displacement of over 3.3 million Iraqis in 2014 had stretched the capacity of the national health authorities and humanitarian partners to continue meeting the needs of refugees and respond to the inflated demand for health care intervention.

As of 2018, WHO has been active in filling the gaps in essential medicines and medical supplies and equipment, improving referral services, and supporting surveillance and water quality monitoring activities in the refugee camp and non-camp settings. According to the 2017 national health reports, the said DOHs have provided a total of 264,611 consultations to Syrian refugees residing in KRG of Iraq.

The contribution of US$ 2.5 million from the U.S. BPRM will support the provision of comprehensive primary health care and referral services for around 300,000 Syrian refugees and host communities in KRI. It will also support the healthcare services for the disabled and mentally ill patients in the three mentioned governorates through a comprehensive training program for the national professionals working in the mental health area.

The contribution will also cover the procurement and distribution of essential medicines, and medical supplies and equipment to selected health facilities serving the refugees in target governorates.

(Source: UN)

UNFPA and Spain Join Efforts to Enhance Access to Psychosocial and Mental Health Services in Iraq

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) joined efforts with UNFPA to improve access to psychosocial, mental health, and GBV services to women and girls in Iraq through a contribution of €400,000 to the programme.

The conflict in Iraq has had major psychological and emotional consequences on the well-being of women and girls due to the continuous displacement, the traumatic events and the violence experienced.

Dr Oluremi Sogunro (pictured), UNFPA Representative to Iraq, expressed his gratitude for Spain’s support:

The psychological and emotional wounds of war in Iraq have left thousands of women and girls in need of mental health assistance and psychosocial support. The Spanish contribution will enable UNFPA to improve the capacity and access to these much-needed services, including legal support and referrals, to more than 1,800 women and girls in the country.

“This contribution will strengthen UNFPA’s mental health interventions through the improvement of the access to psychologists and counsellors who provide vital care and support for women suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), depression, and severe anxiety.”

Furthermore, the assistance from Spain will ensure the support of the UNFPA-funded survivor centres, Girls and Women Treatment and Support Centres; and Women Community Centres, in particular in improving legal support in hard-to-reach areas of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, released the Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) III report.

The Integrated Location Assessment – Round III provides an in-depth look into both displacement and return movements in Iraq, putting a special focus on profiling the locations these groups live in and the social dynamics they are immersed in.

The latest round of the ILA study, completed from 6 March to 6 May 2018, includes the demographics of the displaced and returnee populations, their current conditions, movement intentions, vulnerabilities, sectorial needs and the state of social cohesion in the locations they currently live in. It covers 4,177 locations, reaching approximately 1,491,792 IDPs (248,632 families) and 3,585,210 returnees (597,535) across Iraq.

Key findings of the assessment are summarized below:

Compared to May 2017, the number of IDPs has reduced by approximately one third (-34%, 1,017,048 individuals). Decreases were recorded across all Iraqi governorates hosting IDPs, particularly in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Salah al-Din, but except in Sulaymaniyah.

Among those who remain displaced, 48% are hosted within their governorate of origin, 35% in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), 14% in other north-central governorates and 3% in southern governorates – nearly all in Najaf. Over half of current IDPs (54%) have been in displacement for more than 3 years, 38% between 1 and 3 years and 8% for less than one year.

Access to employment/livelihood opportunities continues to be the main concern of IDPs in nearly all locations – and more so compared to last year. In fact, it was cited among top 3 concerns in locations where 93% of IDPs are currently hosted – it was 63% in May 2017.

For IDPs, lack of access to employment/livelihoods translates into the related difficulty of accessing food (51%), household and non-food items (NFIs, 66%) and shelter (42%). In fact, basic needs were generally rated as far more important than recovery needs.

In addition, nearly three fourth of displaced families report the lack of a shelter to return, around one in five does not have enough money for the journey back (reportedly most IDPs originally from Anbar and Baghdad) and/or is afraid to lose aid/humanitarian assistance.

Most IDP families intending to voluntarily stay in area of displacement in the long term (12% of current IDPs) can be found in southern governorates. Between 28% and 38% of IDPs hosted in Baghdad, Kerbala and Kirkuk, are also willing to voluntarily stay. Involuntary stay (10% at country level) is more prevalent in Sulaymaniyah, Babylon and reported, to a lesser extent, in Diyala.

IDPs are mainly re-settling in the South by virtue of its safety and the presence of extended family and friends, whereas staying in north-central governorates is mostly involuntary – families have lost everything at home or have no means to return. Safety, services and job opportunities are the most important reasons to relocate in the KRI.

The most frequently reported vulnerable categories are persons with disabilities, female-headed households and minor headed households – overall, between 53% and 72% of IDPs and returnees live in locations where the presence of at least one of the above groups was reported.

The most frequently reported minor vulnerability is work. Overall, around 70% of returnees and IDPs live in locations where the presence of minors working was assessed. In addition, around one fourth of returnees and IDPs live in locations where children are married, children are begging, and/or they were born during displacement, and hence do not have birth certificates and other documents.

Download full report.

(Source: IOM)

Even after the military defeat of ISIS, the Netherlands will continue working to ensure security and stability in Iraq and the wider region. Foreign minister Stef Blok made this point during his trip to Jordan and Iraq. ‘We have to do this to prevent ISIS from regaining strength,’ he said.

Since the Netherlands joined the international fight against ISIS in 2014, the campaign has enjoyed great success. Almost all the territory once controlled by the group has been retaken. More than 7 million people have been freed from ISIS’s rule, and displaced people are returning to their homes and resuming their lives.

‘Now that ISIS has been defeated militarily, the focus is shifting to post-war reconstruction,’ Mr Blok said. ‘Putting ISIS combatants on trial is also crucial. Security and stability are preconditions for proceeding with the next phase. The Netherlands is working to strengthen its ties with Iraq and Jordan. That’s why I think it’s important for me to be here, so that we can set to work together on enhancing security.’

The Dutch partnership with Iraq and Jordan has already taken off. For example, last month in The Hague Mr Blok and Jordanian King Abdullah II both took part in the international ‘Aqaba meetings’ on counterterrorism.

Stability

A year ago Iraq was declared liberated from ISIS. In 2019 Dutch efforts will focus on capacity building in Iraq’s security sector. About 70 Dutch military personnel are currently training Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga. ‘The work of these Dutch trainers has great added value,’ said the Dutch foreign minister. ‘Their labours will equip Iraq to meet its own future security needs.’

Stability in Iraq is in the Netherlands’ interests. It will reduce the threat of terrorism, lower the risk of new refugee flows, and increase the likelihood of return for displaced people. ‘I’m seeing here with my own eyes how much devastation ISIS’s terror caused,’ said Mr Blok. ‘It’s in this phase above all, as Iraq rebuilds, that the Netherlands can help the country ensure that its victory over ISIS is a lasting one. That will allow the displaced and the refugees to return home.’

Construction and recovery

During his visit to the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the Dutch minister reopened a hospital that had been damaged in the fighting. ‘There was a huge battle against ISIS in Fallujah,’ he said. ‘This is the furthest point the group reached in its advance towards Baghdad, which is only a few dozen kilometres from here. Until recently, following ISIS’s devastating attack, Fallujah was cut off from the world. The fact that this hospital can now once more open its doors speaks volumes about how far Iraq has come.’

With support from a development cooperation fund, the Netherlands financed the rebuilding of the Fallujah Teaching Hospital and repairs to the city’s iconic bridge over the Euphrates, which Mr Blok also visited while he was in Fallujah. Alongside this support, additional Dutch aid to the region is helping restabilise it.

Refugees

Over the past few years, the fighting with ISIS turned millions of people into refugees. The consequences have been felt not only in the region but also in Europe, including the Netherlands. Mr Blok visited a refugee camp in Jordan: ‘The countries around Syria are bearing a heavy burden,’ he said. ‘Bear in mind that almost one person in ten in Jordan today is a Syrian refugee.’ The Netherlands is helping by funding jobs and education for these refugees and supporting Jordanian communities that are hosting them.

Dutch F-16s

The Netherlands, Jordan and Iraq are all members of the anti-ISIS coalition. Over the past few years Jordan has hosted the F16s that the Netherlands has committed to the fight. Now that their deployment has reached its end, the F16s are about to return to the Netherlands. Mr Blok paid a visit to the 150 Dutch military personnel in Jordan who will be heading home in a few weeks. ‘These men and women have made an essential contribution to the often fierce battle against ISIS, and I want to thank them for everything they’ve done,’ he said.

(Source: Govt of the Netherlands)

Do social protection programs improve life satisfaction?

Evidence from Iraq

An extensive literature examines the link between social protection-related public spending and objective outcomes of well-being such as income, employment, education, and health.

Much less attention has been given to how government social protection policies influence individuals’ own sense of well-being, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (often referred to as developing countries).

Yet, the effectiveness and the sustainability of such policies and programs often depend on how people perceive them.

This paper examines the relationship between social protection programs and subjective well-being in Iraq.

The full report can be read here.

(Source: Brookings Institution)

As Nadia Murad (pictured), the Yazidi activist and survivor of gender-based violence is honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace, UNICEF is calling attention to the plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced children in Iraq whose lives are threatened by freezing temperatures and floods that have affected large parts of the country.

“As the world celebrates Nadia Murad’s incredible story of survival and her work for human rights, let us remember that there are many vulnerable children in Iraq who still need our support, even if the worse of the violence may be over” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

Winters in Iraq are harsh. It rains and snows and temperatures can fall below zero in the northern part of the country, where a majority of Yazidi and other displaced children live. Most displaced families live below the poverty line, in dilapidated housing with poor heating, or in camps with little protection from the cold. It impossible to afford fuel for heating and winter clothing to keep their children warm.

“The devastating floods have made this winter even more difficult for displaced children who are extremely vulnerable to hypothermia and respiratory diseases. No child should be subjected to such risks. Every child deserves to be warm and healthy,” added Mr. Hawkins.

UNICEF is providing winter clothes, including boots, scarves, and hats to approximately 161,000 children in Sinjar, Erbil, Dohuk, Ninawa, Anbar, Diwaniya, Basra, Salaheddin, Baghdad and Suleimaniah, including through cash support.

UNICEF’s winter campaign aims to reach the most vulnerable children aged between three months and 14 years living in camps for the internally displaced and in hard-to-reach areas.

(Source: UN)

Years of war and the invasion of ISIS have torn through the fabric of family life in Iraq: loved ones have been lost, homes destroyed, communities ripped apart.

One of the most devastating effects has been the vast numbers of children left without parents.

The AMAR International Charitable Foundation has been delivering medical and educational support to these orphans and families, but we need your help to continue.

This Christmas families all over the world will come together to share in the warmth, pleasure and love surrounding the festivities. Together under one roof, they’ll celebrate, enjoy hearty meals, exchange gifts.

But for many in Iraq there can be no such celebration. Their lives have been devastated by conflict and persecution. Almost 2 million remain displaced.

One of the most devastating consequences has been the vast numbers of children left without parents. They have been left traumatised and unprotected, and risk becoming forgotten casualties of the war.

This Christmas families all over the world will come together to share in the warmth, pleasure and love surrounding the festivities. Together under one roof, they’ll celebrate, enjoy hearty meals, exchange gifts.

But for many in Iraq there can be no such celebration. Their lives have been devastated by conflict and persecution. Almost 2 million remain displaced.

One of the most devastating consequences has been the vast numbers of children left without parents. They have been left traumatised and unprotected, and risk becoming forgotten casualties of the war.

How can I help?

£14 for an emergency winter blanket
£85 for food box feeding a family for a month
£49 for a Woman Health Volunteer to travel and visit families for a month
£77 for one adult wheelchair
£290 for an English teacher for a month
£244 for an ambulance driver for a month

Please help us to help them.

(Source: AMAR)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted an urgent needs-assessment mission to Qayyarah’s Jadaa internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Ninewa governorate to assess the health situation of the population affected by the heavy rain which caused flash flooding in a number of IDP camps in the governorate.

Tens of thousands of families have lost all their belongings and are reported to be in dire need of food, drinking water, medicine, and hygiene kits.

A slight increase in the number of upper respiratory tract infection cases were reported in the visited camps and health partners there were notified to monitor the situation and immediately report any change in communicable disease trends through the WHO Early Warning Alert and Response Network (EWARN).

“WHO is working closely with partners and local health authorities to manage the emergency and meet the urgent health and sanitation needs of thousands of families hit by the flash floods in Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates,” said Dr Adham Rashad, Acting WHO Representative in Iraq. “The situation requires a collective humanitarian effort and a quick reaction to minimize risks and contain the damage,” he added.

A shipment of blankets has been delivered to IDP camps in the district of Qayyarah and medical supplies, kits, and ambulances are on the way for deployment to badly affected areas in the affected governorates.

As of 23 November, heavy rain has hit the country causing flash floods that have led to the damage of property, livestock, and infrastructure in Ninewa, Salah Eldin and the southern governorates of Missan, Wasit and Basrah. A number of bridges, roads, and villages were inundated and more than 10 000 people in Salah Eldin and 15 000 people in Ninewa governorates are in urgent need of assistance, including thousands of families living in IDP camps.

WHO remains ready to support the Ministry of Health and local health authorities to address the impact of the floods and reduce the suffering of the vulnerable populations in the IDP camps and other under-recovery areas in Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates.

(Source: UN)

It’s here! #Giving Tuesday! 

Make a high impact gift to Iraqi orphans and vulnerable children today.

How? $40,000 is available in matching funds for education, nutrition, legal protection, medical care, and psychosocial support for orphans, street kids, and displaced children.

Donate $25, $50, $100, or more and get a 100% match PLUS, for every $25 donated, a girl or boy gets a gift of a doll or soccer ball.

Watch this video:  Their smiles belong to you!

(Source: Iraqi Children Foundation)