The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a donation of US$522,500 from the Government of Switzerland to support the food needs of nearly 24,000 refugees and internally displaced people for one month.

The funds, coming through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, will be used to provide cash assistance to 13,400 Iraqis displaced by the conflict and 10,400 Syrian refugees.

“During the ongoing pandemic, refugees and displaced persons remain among the most vulnerable in Iraq,” said the Ambassador of Switzerland to Iraq Lukas Gasser.

“Switzerland continues its long-term partnership with WFP, working together to support displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugee families, to get through this difficult time of heightened need – especially as many affected people remain unable to work.”

Due to increased needs caused by COVID-19, WFP has scaled up its assistance in Iraq reaching a total of 76,000 refugees and 280,000 IDPs.

“WFP expresses its continued gratitude for the steadfast support of the people and Government of Switzerland particularly during this difficult time,” said WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag.

“Many IDPs and refugee families had begun to achieve some self-sufficiency in securing their food needs before the pandemic. Now many have lost their jobs, among the worst affected are day labourers and seasonal workers.”

In ongoing efforts to mitigate COVID-19, WFP is pioneering cashless payments in camps, so that people can purchase food in a “contactless” manner. This both reduces the need for banknotes, and helps avoid the need for people to leave the camp and move around more than necessary.

Meanwhile, WFP and its partners continue awareness sessions on precautionary measures, and will begin emergency livelihoods projects as soon as it is safe, to help affected people to work again and secure their food needs.

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) applauds the Iraqi government’s leadership and decisive response to the COVID-19 outbreak at a time when it is also confronting separate crises, including social unrest and an unprecedented economic downturn.

The UN commends the determination shown by local, regional and national authorities to contain the virus, as well as the success of the early and sustained measures that were adopted with strong support from communities. It nevertheless warns that each and every person plays a critical role in facing the ongoing second wave of infections observed across many governorates.

Recalling her recent statement to the UN Security Council, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stressed that “no amount of government response can succeed without the active involvement of the entire population”. She added “Despite the high hardship imposed by these measures, we know that they represent our best hope of getting back on our feet as soon as possible”.

The entire United Nations family, with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the lead, is providing critical assistance to Iraq to face the pandemic, including lab and medical supplies, personal protective equipment, funding and technical advice.

“Iraqis can continue to count on the steadfast support of the United Nations during their time of need. The ultimate responsibility lies with individuals, who must play their part by following the instructions of the health authorities to protect themselves and their families”, the Special Representative concluded.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

NATO‘s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) has received a request for international assistance from Iraq to control the spread of COVID-19 and deal with those affected.

The EADRCC is NATO’s principal civil emergency response mechanism in the Euro-Atlantic area.

It is active all year round, operational on a 24/7 basis, and involves all NATO Allies and partner countries.

The Centre functions as a clearing-house system for coordinating both requests and offers of assistance mainly in case of natural and man-made disasters.

(Source: NATO)

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)

WHO conducts remote psychological first aid training in Iraq to address COVID-19 stigma and discriminatory

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been experiencing varying degrees of fear, concern, anxiety and stress which requires psychological support to enable them to cope better with the challenges they are facing.

In Iraq, WHO identified groups in need of psychological care, with a special focus on women, and addressed their needs through a series of online training sessions on psychological first aid and how to address stigma and discrimination.

In April this year, remote psychological first aid training was provided to more than 100 participants from several organizations working in the field of mental health and psychosocial support. The training introduced the principles of providing psychological care using phones or social media outlets.

Participants were coached to deal with stigma and shame suffered by people who have contracted COVID-19. They shared observations of negative behaviours and attitudes seen as directly contributing to negative health outcomes and difficulties in accessing information on the disease in pandemic-affected locations.

One of the training participants commented: “My neighbour refused to allow his 68-year-old mother to go to the isolation facility because of stigma. It is hard for a man in Iraq to allow his mother, wife, daughter or his sister to be taken for quarantine or isolation outside the family home; community traditions and social norms don’t allow it.”

Other participants spoke about how people infected with COVID-19 experience severe stress due to isolation from the family, neighbours, relatives and community.

“Stigma in some areas is cultural or grounded in social beliefs around the shame of getting a communicable disease,” another participant from Mosul commented. “I think a lot of people don’t understand that we all are vulnerable to COVID-19; acquiring the disease can happen to anyone and we need to focus on raising awareness and educating ourselves on preventive measures, the top of which is social distancing and hand hygiene. There is no shame in going into quarantine or staying away from family and friends if you are sick.”

Participants were also made aware of the important role they play in convincing the populations they serve to report suspected COVID-19 cases and encouraging them to maintain a proper and healthy lifestyle, including adopting appropriate breathing, talking, eating and body hygiene protocols.

“People with COVID-19 have to a certain level been negatively associated with stigma and discrimination worldwide,” said Dr Adham R. Ismail, WHO Representative in Iraq. “WHO and the Ministry of Health and Environment jointly confirm that all people regardless of race, social status or ethnic background are vulnerable to the disease if protective measures are not properly followed.” “WHO and health authorities recognize the importance of addressing the health needs of those in need and continue providing specialized services to help them feel calm and able to maintain normal life activities in this difficult time,” concluded Dr Ismail.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The first Covid-19 case in Iraq was officially confirmed on 24 February 2020, and as figures continue to rise across the country, authorities are adopting increasingly stringent measures to avert further spread of the virus.

While these important measures can help contain the outbreak, they are also creating serious additional challenges for a population suffering from decades of conflict, economic deprivation, and political uncertainty.

More here.

(Source: ICRC)

By John Lee.

The first Covid-19 case in Iraq was officially confirmed on 24 February 2020, and as figures continue to rise across the country, authorities are adopting increasingly stringent measures to avert further spread of the virus.

While these important measures can help contain the outbreak, they are also creating serious additional challenges for a population suffering from decades of conflict, economic deprivation, and political uncertainty.

More here.

(Source: ICRC)

By Al-Monitor staff. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Parts of Iraqi capital go under full lockdown after jump in virus cases

Parts of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, will go under a full lockdown after a jump in coronavirus cases, Iraqi Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi announced in a statement posted on social media today.

The order said there will be a full lockdown starting Wednesday for two weeks in several Baghdad neighborhoods. The areas covered include several populous areas outside downtown Baghdad, including Ameria and Sadr City.

The decision follows 150 new coronavirus cases recorded in Iraq today, with 120 in Baghdad, including 48 in the Rusafa area, the ministry said. Other places where cases were registered included Najaf, Karbala and Sulaimaniyah.

Click here to read the full story.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq, the World Bank has recently approved the re-allocation of U$33.6 million under the current Emergency Operation for Development Project (EODP-US$750 million) to support the Ministry of Health’s efforts in preventing, detecting, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This fast track emergency response comes in two phases. The World Bank initially mobilized US$7.8 million from resources that were immediately available under the EODP to help finance the supply of essential medical equipment and supplies and strengthen intensive care unit (ICU) capacity at public hospitals for improved COVID-19 case management.

Through cooperation with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), ventilators, ICU beds, ECG machines, mobile X-ray machines and defibrillators will be delivered to designated sites in four to eight weeks.

In a follow-up step, the World Bank also approved the Government of Iraq’s request to re-allocate an additional US$25.8 million under the project to supply additional quantities of equipment and consumables and support the training of health workers and front-line responders on their use.  The expedited procurement procedures of UNOPS will ensure the timely delivery of medical supplies to the Ministry of Health.

“The pandemic is expected to particularly hit poor and vulnerable households. The World Bank stands ready to support Iraq’s efforts to contain the rapid spread of the virus and strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Health to address the additional strain the pandemic poses on the Iraqi health system,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director.

The reallocation of funds does not affect the initial scope of the Emergency Operation for Development Project which aims to support Iraq in the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and the restoration of public services delivery in targeted municipal areas. As a matter of fact, and through the procurement of goods, works and consulting services using World Bank’s procurement and financial management regulations, over 3 million people in five governorates liberated from ISIS are already benefiting from improved health services through the rehabilitation of damaged clinics and the supply of 14 mobile clinics and 82 ambulances, restored electricity connectivity by 35%, improved  key municipal services with the provision of purified drinking water and waste collection schemes, and restored access through the reconstruction of 400 km of roads and 25 critical bridges. The project is also contributing to promoting state/citizen trust-building and reconciliation through the training of 79 non-governmental organizations and over 1,000 young men and women on peaceful dialogue and reconciliation in their communities.

The Emergency Operation for Development Project was initially approved in July 2015 in the amount of US$350 million. An additional financing to the project in the amount of US$400 million was later on approved in October 2017 to allow the geographic scale-up of existing project activities to additional cities liberated from ISIS.

World Bank Group COVID-19 Response

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.

(Source: World Bank)

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq, the World Bank has recently approved the re-allocation of U$33.6 million under the current Emergency Operation for Development Project (EODP-US$750 million) to support the Ministry of Health’s efforts in preventing, detecting, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This fast track emergency response comes in two phases. The World Bank initially mobilized US$7.8 million from resources that were immediately available under the EODP to help finance the supply of essential medical equipment and supplies and strengthen intensive care unit (ICU) capacity at public hospitals for improved COVID-19 case management.

Through cooperation with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), ventilators, ICU beds, ECG machines, mobile X-ray machines and defibrillators will be delivered to designated sites in four to eight weeks.

In a follow-up step, the World Bank also approved the Government of Iraq’s request to re-allocate an additional US$25.8 million under the project to supply additional quantities of equipment and consumables and support the training of health workers and front-line responders on their use.  The expedited procurement procedures of UNOPS will ensure the timely delivery of medical supplies to the Ministry of Health.

“The pandemic is expected to particularly hit poor and vulnerable households. The World Bank stands ready to support Iraq’s efforts to contain the rapid spread of the virus and strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Health to address the additional strain the pandemic poses on the Iraqi health system,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director.

The reallocation of funds does not affect the initial scope of the Emergency Operation for Development Project which aims to support Iraq in the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and the restoration of public services delivery in targeted municipal areas. As a matter of fact, and through the procurement of goods, works and consulting services using World Bank’s procurement and financial management regulations, over 3 million people in five governorates liberated from ISIS are already benefiting from improved health services through the rehabilitation of damaged clinics and the supply of 14 mobile clinics and 82 ambulances, restored electricity connectivity by 35%, improved  key municipal services with the provision of purified drinking water and waste collection schemes, and restored access through the reconstruction of 400 km of roads and 25 critical bridges. The project is also contributing to promoting state/citizen trust-building and reconciliation through the training of 79 non-governmental organizations and over 1,000 young men and women on peaceful dialogue and reconciliation in their communities.

The Emergency Operation for Development Project was initially approved in July 2015 in the amount of US$350 million. An additional financing to the project in the amount of US$400 million was later on approved in October 2017 to allow the geographic scale-up of existing project activities to additional cities liberated from ISIS.

World Bank Group COVID-19 Response

The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.

(Source: World Bank)