By Hussein Al-alak. Republished with permission.

Iraqi Children Foundation, safeguarding Iraq’s future generations

For millions of people around the world, the welfare of Iraqi children is key to safeguarding the future peace and stability of Iraq. In this exclusive interview, Hussein Al-alak talks to Mohammed Khudairi, of the US based Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF), about their ongoing efforts in Iraq.

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Mohammed Khudairi. I am the Chairman of Iraqi Children Foundation, as well as the Managing Partner of Khudairi Group.

Can you please tell us about the Iraqi Children Foundation?

The Iraqi Children Foundation intervenes in the lives of orphans and street children who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers and extremists. The organization was set up ten years ago by Americans who saw the need to help rebuild Iraq after so many years of conflict. More than 800,000 children were orphaned as a result of the Iraq War, and the ISIS occupation displaced another 1.3 million.

How does the work of the Iraqi Children Foundation help vulnerable children?

Our vision is that all children in Iraq have a voice, and are empowered to reach their full potential. All our programs have this goal in mind. We help vulnerable children through several channels, including:

⦁ The Hope Bus program – we convert used city buses into colorful, child friendly classrooms. Each bus has two teachers and a social worker, and serves around 50 children with tutoring, nutrition, health care, social services, practical life lessons, community, and fun.

⦁ The Street Lawyers program – our lawyers provide legal protection for children who are targeted by criminals and traffickers, abused by employers, or are facing other risks. They also assist children to get their papers so that they can go to school.

⦁ Social Services program – social workers on our team work to end child labor and get children off the streets. They also work to stop domestic abuse, provide medical care, and help get access to psychosocial services for children with mental health issues.

As Iraq has experienced decades of conflict, can you please tell us how this impacts on children? Children who are displaced, or have been exposed to high levels of violence, are often left emotionally and physically vulnerable. Can you please tell us about some of the risks that children in Iraq now face?

Many children have been left orphaned (800,000) or displaced (1.3 million) as a result of conflict in Iraq. Children who are in this vulnerable position are less likely to reach their full potential, as they are less likely to have access to education, health care (both mental and physical), and community support.

These children are more likely to become targets for human traffickers or extremist recruitment. The importance of ensuring children are not radicalized in Iraq cannot be overstated; extremism is a destabilizing force in the Middle East and globally. This is not just a humanitarian issue, it’s a regional security issue.

In the past, there have been cases where children have also been used as weapons of war, or due to bereavement, have been forced into exploitative trades. Can you please tell us about some of the safeguarding measures that have been, or are currently being put in place?

As an organization, the Iraqi Children Foundation looks to empower children so they are less vulnerable to exploitation. This includes educating children about risks, and providing a safe space for them to learn and form a sense of belonging with caring adults, and other children.

We also try to protect children and give them a voice, by providing legal representation in cases where children are exploited. Other nonprofits, non-government organizations, and government organizations all contribute to safeguarding measures; there is still a lot of work to be done.

As the media often gives focus to human interest stories from Iraq, or children left disabled by war, what support is available for children born with either physical or learning disabilities?

For families stuck in cycles of poverty in Iraq, there is limited access to medical care for children with disabilities. Often, these disabilities go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. As a result, these children are unable to receive the treatment they need.

Our social workers spend time getting to know families who live in impoverished areas of Baghdad, and to identify cases where children are suffering due to disabilities. We will work with the families of these children to get the correct medical attention and ongoing support, providing financial aid where necessary.

As the Iraqi Children Foundation is based in the USA but are working with children, on a grassroots level across Iraq, can you please tell us how people in Britain and America can support your work?

We have extremely competent NGO partners in Iraq who deliver our services to the children. We have worked with our primary partner, Justice Gate, for the past 7 years. We partner with local NGOs because we believe it is important to invest in Iraqi organizations and build capacity to provide ongoing services and ensure the growth and success of the country.

Our team and donors in America, Britain, and across the globe are working hard to raise awareness and dollars so we can continue to invest in the children of Iraq. On a practical level, our greatest need is ongoing financial support – those interested can donate via Global Giving. For those located in or near Washington DC, we also have a fundraising 5K run each year.

This year the race is in June, and we would love to see you there! We are extremely transparent at ICF, and very focused on effectiveness and efficiency of our programs. We are always open to discussing our work and results, you can find more information and our contact details at our website.

U.S. Government to Provide Additional $100 Million for Iraq Stabilization

US Chargé d’Affaires Joey Hood has announced that the United States Government intends to provide an additional $100 million to help stabilize liberated areas once held by the Islamic State.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide the funds to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  With this $100 million contribution, the U.S. Government will have provided $358 million to stabilization efforts in Iraq since 2015.

The Funding Facility for Stabilization is supported by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and managed in cooperation with the Government of Iraq.

The United States and the GOI are committed to creating the conditions to allow displaced Iraqis to return to their homes and start to rebuild their lives.  Strengthened with new funding, this stabilization program will restore essential services, such as water, electricity, sewage, health, housing, and education.

In his announcement, the Chargé called on Anbar’s elected officials, tribal sheikhs, and residents to protect the project work sites and ‎do their part to re-integrate back into their communities all displaced Iraqis who wished to return home.

(Source: U.S. Embassy Baghdad)

WHO sends shipment of kits and medical supplies to Missan governorate

Responding to the needs of the Directorate of Health in Missan following the recent floods that hit the area, the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the generous support of donors, sent a large consignment of emergency kits and medical supplies to support the Directorate, 304 kilometres south east of Baghdad.

WHO and Missan Directorate of Health staff witness firsthand the damage caused by floodingMissan was adversely affected by the floods which were caused by heavy rain and floods from the border with Islamic Republic of Iran. The flood water is covering a wide area of land, which has led to the migration of residents, damage to property, death of livestock and destruction of agricultural crops in many villages and marshlands.

About 328 726 population are at risk. Cities and villages affected are: Ali al-Gharbi, al-Msharrah, Hay al-Mua’alemeen al-Jadeed, al-Salam, al-Faka, al-Btaira, al-Teeb, al-Adil, al-Maymouna, al-Uzair and al-Kahlaa. Areas seriously threatened are villages west of the Tigris River (Hor Al-Musandak) along Ali al-Gharbi, Ali al-Sharqi and Qamit. 545 families are displaced with another 2000 families threatened with displacement.

The Government coordinated multisectoral efforts, supervised and supported relief operations, established 5 camps, and coordinated with Iraqi Army forces and civil defense to send helicopters to evacuate people trapped in flooded areas. With the situation quickly evolving, 101 families in some villages were evacuated to a camp in a neighbouring village.

Adham Ismail, acting WHO Representative in Iraq, said:

In response to the crisis, the WHO country office in Iraq has been coordinating very closely with the Missan Directorate of Health. WHO kept high level coordination and collaboration with the Directorate of Health in Missan through medical operations and specialized services.

“WHO acted promptly in responding to monitoring the floods and receiving regular reports, it assessed water quality and access to clean water and monitored cases of acute diarrhoea. Further, WHO has shared information with the Development Coordination Office at UNAMI and all United Nations partner agencies in Basra, particularly with UNICEF – Water and Sanitation Unit, and supported the Directorate with 30 Basic Interagency Emergency Health Kit and trauma kits to cover a population of 100 000 for one month. WHO will continue its efforts in monitoring the flood and health situation in Missan.

Officials at Missan Directorate of Health stressed that the shipment would save lives in the governorate and could be used by mobile clinics offering emergency health care and services to affected people. They expressed appreciation to WHO and donors for their quick response and support.

The consignment included supplementary module pharmaceutical kits, supplementary module equipment, renewable kits, trauma profile/emergency kits, medical supplies, and basic units (without a malaria component).

(Source: WHO)

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has issued a report on its “Priority Humanitarian Small Scale Projects: In Health, Education, Municipality, Electricity, Social Care, Agriculture and Livelihoods and Water Sectors Kurdistan Region-Iraq 2019“.

The document presents a detailed breakdown of a total 167 priority humanitarian Small Scale Projects (SMPs) for 2019.

The focus is therefore on small-scale projects with the cost per project ranging from USD 28,000 to 1.2 million.

Download the full 39-page report here.

(Source: KRG)

WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF reiterate their commitment to Universal Health Coverage for every person, anywhere, anytime in Iraq

Today, as the world commemorates World Health Day with the theme, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF recommit to supporting the Government of Iraq ensure that every person in Iraq has access to quality health care services, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of achieving universal health coverage by 2030.

Iraq has made considerable progress of striving to ensure access to quality and affordable health care services for its citizens over the past 25 years. The country has seen great improvement in life expectancy from 68.1 to 70.3 years; neo-natal mortality have gone down from 27 to 17% per 1000 live birth, while under five mortality has reduced from 54 to 30%. However, more needs to be done in order to build on these achievements and ensure equitable access to essential health services, irrespective of socio-economic status or geographic location.

Accessing UHC means providing access to essential quality care and protection. This entails integration of good stewardship, adequate public financing, qualified and motivated health workforce, access to quality medicines and health products, functional health information systems and people-centered service delivery systems. WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF are working closely with the authorities in Iraq at the national and subnational levels to strengthen health systems for better service delivery.

WHO continues to support the Iraqi Ministry of Health in prepositioning mobile clinics in areas with limited or no access to health care services, procuring medicines and other medical supplies, as well as developing strategies, guidelines and policies in favor of universal health care. In addition, the organization is working to build the capacity of health workers through trainings and is supporting the rehabilitation of damaged and destroyed health facilities.

Women and girls in particular are still unable to realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights and suffer from gender-based violence. Protracted displacement places an extra burden, making them unable to access reproductive health services in a timely manner, leading to life-threatening risks during pregnancy and delivery. UNFPA continues to prioritize maternal health, childbirth and newborn care services through the support of 76 facilities to mitigate the risks of maternal deaths and ensure no pregnancy is unattended by birth attendants in Iraq.

UNICEF has focused much of its healthcare work on immunization, newborn care, and nutrition across Iraq, including among vulnerable communities such as the internally displaced and hard to reach areas. Although 90% of under-fives received polio and measles vaccinations last year, only half of under ones got all the vaccinations required to ensure a healthy childhood. Without adequate immunization, Iraqi children have significantly higher risks of developing debilitating diseases and lifelong disabilities.

On this World Health Day, the UN reiterates its commitment to work with the Government to bring the country one-step closer to an Iraq where everyone has rights, choices, and access to quality health services. Together, we can contribute to ensuring that the people of Iraq are among the global one billion more people exercising their human right to have access to quality health services.

(Source: UN)

IOM Launches Funding Appeal to Address Most Urgent Humanitarian Needs in Areas of Displacement and Return in Iraq

Five years after the onset of the ISIL crisis and the subsequent massive internal displacement, IOM Iraq is launching its funding appeal for emergency assistance in the amount of USD 41.4 million.

Although the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has gradually declined since 2017, there are still around 1,750,000 Iraqis living in displacement as of February 2019, due to significant obstacles to return such as damage to houses; lack of livelihoods and basic services; perceptions of insecurity in areas of origin; and mental and psychosocial distress. Around a third of the current population of IDPs, over 530,000 persons, is still living in camps, which require critical support.

IOM’s funding appeal is aligned with the 2019 United Nations’ Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Iraq, which estimates that approximately 6.7 million people are in critical need of support. Nearly 65 per cent of those are concentrated in Ninewa, Anbar, and Salah al-Din, the governorates most severely affected by the recent conflict.

IOM will focus its humanitarian support in Iraq on three groups of concern: IDPs who remain in displacement both within and outside camps, vulnerable host communities in areas of displacement and return – where services are overstretched – and IDPs who have returned to their areas of origin but whose basic humanitarian needs are not being met.

In 2019, IOM plans to maintain its life-saving assistance to IDPs in camp settings through the provision of Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI) support, providing primary health services, monitoring and addressing protection and psychosocial needs, supporting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services, and supporting camp co-ordination and camp management (CCCM) of IDP camps and informal settlements.

The appeal also includes a request for the continuation of IOM Iraq’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) which provides real-time reliable quantitative and qualitative data on displacement and returns.

“We highly appreciate IOM’s efforts to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to displaced families in and out of camps as well as support them upon return their communities of origin. We look forward to our continued cooperation in 2019,” said Naseer Abdel-Sattar, Executive Director of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Centre (JCMC) of the Government of Iraq.

“The protracted displacement crisis is one of the critical challenges that needs our focused attention, as many displaced people still depend entirely on the provision of humanitarian assistance. The local resources and capacities are already overstretched and pushed to the limit. IOM has been one of the key partners to provide life-saving assistance to the displaced people inside and outside the camps. We value the continued support and cooperation with IOM to support the most vulnerable people,” said Hoshang Mohamed, the Director General of Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC) in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government.

“Funding for humanitarian assistance is crucial to uphold the basic needs and dignity of vulnerable Iraqis in displacement and areas of return. It will prevent a reversal of the gains made to stabilize areas that have been most severely affected by the conflict,” said Gerard Waite, IOM Iraq’s Chief of Mission.

“Through partnership and collaboration with other humanitarian partners, the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government and local NGOs, we hope to address the most critical humanitarian needs while seeking durable solutions for those in protracted displacement,” he added.

The appeal document is available here (Arabic version here)

Click here to watch our video on the Crisis funding appeal.

(Source: UN)

By Hussein Al-alak. Republished with permission.

Read All About It! The humble book is helping rebuild lives in Iraq

To mark World Book Day, the UK-based charity, the AMAR International Charitable Foundation published these photographs from their school in Basra, Iraq. Each uplifting image demonstrates how AMAR is making positive changes to the lives of Iraqi children, through the power of the written word.

The School for Orphans was built in 2016 and up to 30% of the children who attend have lost both parents to war or disease. The school has modern facilities and provides a broad curriculum, so children get the best start in life. One of their main focuses is on reading.

The AMAR Foundation builds and rehabilitates educational facilities across Iraq, ensuring access to safe, clean classrooms and provides additional infrastructure, so the overall experience for children is conducive to successful learning.

According to the National Literary Trust and Manchester City Council, “Every community faces different challenges and we need local solutions.” For example, “reading for 10 minutes every day can help you relax, learn and feel good.”

By reading, we improve our literacy levels, increase educational achievements and future employment skills, along with improving our own health and social skills. As Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once stated: “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. A love of books is the best of all.”

From Manchester to Iraq – building a global village in education

AMAR is rebuilding the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in Iraq. With Manchester being home to almost 20,000 Iraqi ex-patriates – many of whom escaped from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein – it’s the natural choice to be one of the charity’s first UK appeals centres.

The most recent Iraqi refugees are following in the footsteps of literary giants, such as poet Siegfried Sassoon, whose family arrived in Manchester from Basra in 1858. The British-Lebanese historian Albert Hourani, who was born in Manchester in 1915. His book, A History of the Arab Peoples, was described by Harvard University Press as being “an instant classic upon publication”.

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Iraq’s refugee children were keen visitors to school libraries across the city. Their parents saw it as a means of improving the youngsters’ spoken and written English, thus helping them to integrate into British daily life.

In 2018, Iraqi students at the University of Manchester collected around 1.000 books as part of the international efforts to re-stock the University of Mosul, which was destroyed whilst the city was under the occupation of Islamic State.

AMAR was founded in 1991 and is chaired by Baroness (Emma) Nicholson of Winterbourne. From 1923-1940, David Lindsay – the 27th Earl of Crawford and the grandfather of Baroness Nicholson – was also chancellor of the University of Manchester.

On the 19th May, AMAR supporters are taking part in the Manchester 10K, where they will be supporting the charity’s efforts in education across Iraq. Since its foundation, more than 5 million Iraqi children and adults have benefited from its services in education.

If you wish to learn more about AMAR’s work, please check out www.amarfoundation.org or you can support AMAR’s work in Iraq, by making a solidarity donation online.

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra) and on the 19th May, will be taking part on the Manchester 10K, to support the AMAR Foundation’s work in education across Iraq.

By Kate Denereaz, for the AMAR International Charitable Foundation.

Work is a huge part of our lives. It provides security, meaning and a sense of belonging. It’s part of who we are.

Many AMAR staff, like the people they serve, have been displaced by war and violence. Working for AMAR provides structure and a semblance of normality.

But work means many different things to different people. To mark International Women’s Day, we’re asking some of the women of our workforce, “what does working for AMAR mean to you?

Click here to hear their stories.

(Source: AMAR)

The government of Japan has donated US$3.4 million to provide lifesaving health and nutrition assistance for vulnerable children in conflict affected areas in Iraq.

Approximately 4.2 million people have returned to their homes after fleeing the violence that erupted in 2014, however many find their homes and communities have been reduced to rubbles and essential health services overstretched.

“Across all conflict affected governorates, hospitals have been destroyed and those that are functioning are overwhelmed and struggling to meet health and nutrition needs, placing the lives of the most vulnerable children at risk of deadly diseases, including polio and measles,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative to Iraq.

“Japan has recently decided on a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to 63 million US dollars, including this project as contribution in health and nutrition sectors. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis in Iraq reaches 500 million US Dollars,” said H.E. Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq said.

UNICEF is grateful to the Government of Japan in their unwavering support to vulnerable children and families in Iraq. Since 2015 UNICEF Iraq has partnered with Government of Japan to support the needs of children caught in cycles of violence.

The latest funding of US$.3.4 million will compliment Japan and UNICEF’s investment for Iraqi children by building the capacity of health workers, strengthening health systems in conflict affected governorates as well as providing immunization and nutrition services to nearly 1 million children and breastfeeding mothers in areas of returns as well as in the camps for displaced people.

(Source: UN)

The EU has announced an additional €30 million in humanitarian assistance. Another €20 million in development funding will contribute to the reconstruction of the country’s cultural heritage, as well as the creation of jobs and opportunities for vulnerable youth.

The announcement was made by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides (pictured), on the occasion of his sixth visit to Iraq today.

Commissioner Stylianides said:

Each time I visit Iraq, I see the hope of its people despite the challenging circumstances. At this critical moment for the country, our new funding reaffirms the EU’s commitment to stand in solidarity with all Iraqis and will help the most vulnerable.”

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added:

The EU is committed to the reconstruction of Iraq. With today’s new support, we will help to restore the rich cultural heritage of Mosul and Basrah, and at the same time create much needed jobs and opportunities.”

Whilst in Iraq, Commissioner Stylianides, alongside Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, visited Mosul, where schools and hospitals are being supported by EU funding to help the most vulnerable get access to essential services. In Erbil, the Commissioner visited camps hosting thousands displaced by conflict. In Baghdad, the Commissioner held meetings with the Iraqi authorities.

Humanitarian assistance: The new EU humanitarian assistance worth €30 million will include protection, emergency healthcare, basic shelter, food, safe water, sanitation and hygiene to those in the greatest need throughout the country. These include Iraqis who remain displaced and Syrian refugees in Iraq. It will provide mental health support, increasing services for survivors of sexual violence, and ensuring physical therapy and rehabilitation to war-wounded. Furthermore, the EU will support the resumption of basic public services including health, education, and water supply in war-affected areas, such as Mosul, western Anbar and Hawija.

Development cooperation: The €20 million development cooperation will provide tailored technical and vocation training opportunities for youth in the construction sector, to help to recover the historic urban landscape of Mosul and Basrah. In addition, it will provide small grants to Small and Medium Enterprises and associations, with a focus on the revival of socio-economic and cultural activities. This funding, to be signed on 21 February, is part of the flagship initiative ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ run by UNESCO, and designed to foster social cohesion and promote peace. With the full support of the Government of Iraq, the initiative will focus the restoration and rehabilitation of cultural heritage, as well as the revival of educational and cultural institutions. This measure is part of the EU’s pledge at the Iraq Reconstruction Conference held in Kuwait in February 2018.

Today’s funding announcement brings total EU humanitarian assistance to Iraq to €420 million and development cooperation to €309 million since the beginning of the crisis in 2015.

(Source: EU)