From AFP. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visits West Mosul, less than a year after the city’s liberation.

The visit marks Jolie’s 61st mission – and her fifth visit to Iraq – with the UN Refugee Agency since 2001.

She arrives in the city on the second day of the Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

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Statement by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie at Domiz refugee camp in Iraq

In my country, when we speak of the Middle East we often focus on conflict and human suffering.

And it is true that countless families in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are suffering from conflict they personally have no part in, instability they cannot control, and extremism that they reject.

But on this visit I have been reminded, as I am every time I am here, of the truly extraordinary dignity, resilience, warmth, generosity and grace of the people of the Middle East.

And I want to thank the people of Iraq for their generosity towards Syrian refugees and displaced people, and in particular the KRI government, which is setting a model for refugee protection.

I’m happy have been here on Eid al-Fitr, and I wish the Iraqi people, the Syrian people, and families across this region and beyond, Eid Mubarak, or Jaznawa Piroz Bit.

I am in Iraq to mark World Refugee Day next week. On Tuesday, UNHCR will publish new figures showing that the numbers of displaced people, and the duration of their exile, are the highest they have ever been. At the same time political solutions seem completely lacking, leaving a void that humanitarian aid cannot fill.

Words like “unsustainable” don’t paint a picture of how desperate these times are.

This is my third visit to Domiz camp in six years. The vast majority of its inhabitants are Syrian women and children.

Their lives are on hold indefinitely because of the war. They cannot go back, they cannot move forward, and each year they have less to live on.

I met two mothers this morning, both of them widows. They both lost their husbands while living as refugees, to medical conditions that could normally have been treated.

And now they are both caring for young aged five 5 and 7 who also have life-threatening medical conditions.

When UNHCR’s Syria response was only 50 per cent funded last year, and this year it is only 17 per cent funded, there are terrible human consequences. We should be under no illusions about this.

When there is not even the bare minimum of aid, refugee families cannot receive adequate medical treatment, women and girls are left vulnerable to sexual violence, many children cannot go to school, and we squander the opportunity of being able to invest in refugees so that they can acquire new skills and support their families.

This is the picture in Iraq, in Syria, and wherever in the world you find refugees and displaced people today.

The only answer is to end the conflicts that are forcing people to flee their homes – and for all governments to meet their responsibilities.

So this World Refugee Day I hope that people around the world will consider this larger picture:

What this level and length of displacement says about our world being dangerously out of balance.

What it will say about us if our response is to be selective about when we help, and when we are prepared to defend human rights.

And what it will mean for the future if we are unable to provide enough basic humanitarian support for displaced people and unable to find any solutions to conflicts at the same time.

That is the situation today, but it is not hopeless.

There are millions of refugees and displaced people who want to return home and to work and start over – as I saw in Mosul yesterday, where brick by brick, with their own hands, they are rebuilding their homes.

There are countries that are keeping their borders open to refugees, despite all the pressures and challenges.

There are aid relief workers who are stretching the aid resources, somehow, to minimize loss of life and provide protection.

And there are people around the world who are more committed than ever to defending human rights and basic values.

So on World Refugee Day this year I hope that we can find the strength to find a better way forward together: so that we move into a new era of preventing conflict and reducing instability, rather than simply struggling to deal with its consequences.

Thank you.

(Source: UNHCR)

From the AMAR International Charitable Foundation.

Baroness Nicholson visits Najaf to mark the continuing success of AMAR’s busy public health clinic:

Please click here to help AMAR in their valuable work in Iraq.

Qatar Fund For Development Supports WFP’s Food Assistance Program in Iraq

The Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD) has made a contribution of US$3 million to the United Nations World Food Programme to provide assistance for displaced people in Iraq. The funding will support more than 22,000 Iraqis living in camps.

“The Qatar Fund For Development is committed to supporting displaced people in Iraq, providing them with their basic human needs, and giving them hope for a better future,” said QFD Executive Director of Corporate Strategy, Ali Abdulla Al-Dabbagh after signing the contribution agreement in London.

In urban areas with functioning markets, families will receive cash, allowing them to buy the food they need in line with their dietary requirements and preferences. In areas where local markets are not well established, WFP provides assistance through e-vouchers, which can be used in selected shops.

“We welcome this donation from the Qatar Fund For Development,” said Francis Mwanza, head of WFP’s London office. “Although some Iraqis have returned to their homes, others have lost all their possessions and face security threats, these people remain in camps and continue to need our support.”

WFP currently assists 570,000 displaced Iraqis in camps each month with food rations and cash-based assistance.

(Source: WFP)

Access to safe drinking water is ensured for over 33,000 people in the Governorate of Erbil

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Erbil Governorate completed the rehabilitation of the main water treatment plant in Rawanduz sub-district, which provided safe drinking water to over 33,000 people, including 2,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).

With support from the Government of Germany, UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) and Erbil Governorate upgraded key components of the treatment plant, including construction of a pumping station, main transmission pipeline and water treatment unit.

The upgrade of the water treatment plant will help alleviate chronic shortages, ensure adequate supply of clean water and improve health conditions for the local population.

At a ceremony marking the completion of the project, the Minister of Municipalities and Tourism (MOMAT) for the Kurdistan Regional Government, H.E. Mrs.  Newroz Mawlood Amin, said:

“I feel very lucky to be here today to open the Bekhal-Rawanduz water plant. The project is delivering potable water in line with international standards, benefiting people living in Rawanduz district and surrounding villages.”

The Governor of Erbil, H.E Mr. Nawzad Hadi, said:

“This project has addressed a surge in demand for basic services caused by the influx of IDPs in many villages. We thank the residents of Rawanduz for their generosity in welcoming IDPs and we praise both host communities and IDPs for living peacefully in this area.”

The Mayor of Rawanduz, Mrs. Kwestan Qadir, added:

“Because of the poor quality of water, local communities, especially children, were suffering from waterborne diseases. This project will increase the supply of drinking water to households from 1.5 hours over two days to 24 hours a day/seven days a week. This is a remarkable achievement. We are confident that the improved access to safe water will prevent potential future outbreaks of water-related diseases.”

UNDP’s Programme Manager for ICRRP, Mr. Ashley Carl, noted:

“One of the first steps to recovery after a crisis is ensuring people have access to basic services. ICRRP is strengthening access to basic services and improving the life of vulnerable communities throughout Iraq. With donor support ICRRP has launched more than 30 new infrastructure projects across the country. We are glad to have contributed to such an important project focused on supporting local authorities in meeting the increased demands for essential services to at risk communities.”

UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) promotes the recovery and resilience of communities vulnerable to multi-dimensional shocks associated with large-scale returns and protracted displacement of Iraqis and Syrian refugees.

This is achieved through a medium-term, 24-36 month period of programming integrating crisis management capacity building, rehabilitating basic service infrastructure, livelihood recovery and social cohesion.

(Source: UNDP)

Vulnerable women living in northern Iraq’s refugee camps are being taught how to sew.

Paula Horsfall, from Berkshire, United Kingdom, has collected old sewing machines and transported them to Iraq, where skills the women learn keep them off the dangerous streets of the refugee camp and allow them to make money for their families and children.

The cloth they sew is the native jajim and Paula has struck a deal with a multi-national fashion retailer to provide the finished garments for non-profit sale, with proceeds going back to the women and charity.

Click here to view the full video.

(Source: BBC)

On 6 March, the Government of Iraq as well as the United Nations and its partners launched their 2018 plans for Iraq – the Plan for Relief, Shelter and Stabilization of Displaced People, and the Humanitarian Response Plan.

With the end of large-scale military offensives in late 2017, many families have been returning and are trying to rebuild their lives and homes. As many as two million displaced Iraqis are expected to return in 2018; hence, all efforts must be made to support them in this transition.

This year, approximately, 8.7 million people, nearly half of them children, will require some form of humanitarian assistance.

The Minister of Migration and Displacement said:

The Government’s Plan for Relief, Shelter and Stabilization of Displaced People aims at strengthening the provision of legal protection to internally displaced persons as well as supporting safe returns.

“The plan focuses on supporting returning families with one-off emergency cash assistance to provide the necessities of life, in addition to supporting some basic projects, and continuing to support displaced families with relief items and maintaining the provision of services in camps.

Dr. Mahdi Al-Alaq, the Secretary-General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, referred to Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi’s directive on providing an appropriate environment for the return of displaced people through the implementation of stabilization projects in the liberated areas.

This affirmed the government’s keenness to return the displaced people voluntarily while ensuring the provision of basic services to people in the areas liberated by Iraq’s Armed Forces from ISIL terrorism.

In 2018, the Humanitarian Community, comprised of UN agencies, national and international NGOs and other partners, is requesting US$569 million through the Humanitarian Response Plan to respond to the needs of 3.4 million of the most vulnerable people in Iraq.

The provision of protection support is paramount. Without such services, families may be unable to return home, or will do so in unsustainable conditions.

Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said:

As people return to their areas of origin with a large number of camps in Iraq becoming consolidated or decommissioned during the course of this year, many will need assistance including those who are returning as well as those who are unable to.

“Continued advocacy by the humanitarian community against involuntary or premature returns and strengthening mechanisms with the government authorities for supporting voluntary and safe returns is a key component of the 2018 humanitarian response plan.

The Government of Iraq and the humanitarian community in Iraq will continue to coordinate humanitarian assistance to better respond to the needs and challenges faced by displaced people and returnees across the country. The humanitarian operations will be conducted in close collaboration with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Overviews of the Humanitarian Response Plan, in Arabic and English, can be found in our Reports Section.

(Source: UN)

Warning about the “alarming” state of Iraq’s healthcare system, especially in war-ravaged areas in and around Mosul, the United Nations children’s agency has stepped up its support to help the Government provide critical medical services so that children and families affected by violence and displacement can resume their lives.

With less than 10 per cent of health facilities in Iraq’s Ninewah governorate functioning at full capacity, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that as many as 750,000 children in the governorate are struggling to access basic health services although violence has subsided. Those facilities that are operational are stretched to the breaking point.

“The state of Iraq’s healthcare system is alarming,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq, who has just completed a visit to the largest hospital in Mosul.

“For pregnant women, newborn babies, and children, preventable and treatable conditions can quickly escalate into a matter of life and death,” he said, warning that medical facilities are strained beyond capacity and there are critical shortages of life-saving medicines.

Three years of intense violence have devastated health facilities in Iraq. Over 60 health facilities have repeatedly come under attack since the escalation of violence in 2014, severely disrupting access to basic health services for children and families.

In Mosul, UNICEF has rehabilitated the pediatric and nutritional wards of two hospital centres, provided refrigerators to store vaccines for up to 250,000 children, and supported vaccination campaigns to immunize all children under five years old. Most health centres in the governorate have also re-started vaccination services for children.

UNICEF says the Reconstruction Conference for Iraq hosted by Kuwait next week is a unique opportunity for the Iraqi Government and the international community to put children at the heart of reconstruction, including through increased budget allocations to services for children.

Mr. Hawkins said what he saw in the hospitals in Mosul was both “heartbreaking and inspiring,” explaining that the ingenuity and dedication of health workers who are committed to giving newborn children the best possible start in life in the most challenging of circumstances is remarkable.

“They too deserve support so that they can continue to save lives,” he said.

UNICEF is appealing for $17 million to support rebuilding health facilities for children in Iraq in 2018.

(Source: UN)

With UNICEF’s support, ACTED’s community-led approach to child protection in Qushtapa camp, Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is broadening academic and recreational opportunities for displaced children.

Since 2014, ACTED has been providing child protection services to Syrian refugees in Qushtapa camp in Erbil governorate. From within its Child and Youth Community Centres, ACTED provides a range of educational, recreational and awareness raising activities designed to contribute to the sustained resilience of children living both in and out of the camp.

This UNICEF-sponsored project helps foster community ‘buy-in’ through encouraging residents to take part in daily ‘Community Volunteer Hour.’ Forty-eight adult camp residents currently participate through teaching school support classes in archaeology, literacy, Arabic, English, biology to the children and adolescents residing in the camp.

These volunteers also help facilitate a range of sport and arts activities which provide a vital outlet for children, many of whom have experienced hardships through war and displacement.

Prior to commencing in their volunteering roles, ACTED Child Protection Teams deliver trainings for camp residents on Child Friendly Spaces/Youth Friendly Spaces (CFS/YFS) Purposes and Principles, Child Protection in Emergencies, Planning Activities, Facilitation Skills, Classroom Management, Confidentiality, Inclusion of Children with Disabilities, and Psychological First Aid.

Such trainings contribute both to the professional development of volunteers, and also to ensuring children and youth receive quality support.

Adan, one of the forty-eight camp volunteers, said:

“The residents of the camp now understand how the Child Friendly Spaces provide both a safe place for children to spend their time and a great way for us to discover which activities are most appropriate for them. It also helps the members of the camp community to get used to running the CFS. The people quickly understood that despite the challenges, it was our responsibility to take care of the children and focus on their well-being and development.”

ACTED prioritizes self-reliance and decision-making agency among camp residents as a means of both improving camp conditions and ensuring the continuation of relevant, high-impact child protection support services after the management of such camps transitions into the hands of local actors.

(Source: ACTED)

Number of Returns Exceeds Number of Displaced Iraqis: UN Migration Agency

For the first time since the beginning of the Iraq crisis in December 2013, the number of people returning to their area of origin has surpassed the number of people displaced in the country.

Over the past four years, the country has been deeply affected by the conflict with ISIL, which led to the displacement of nearly six million people. Prime Minister Abadi announced Iraq’s victory over ISIL on 9 December 2017; by the end of 2017 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, identified 3.2 million people, who have returned back to their place of origin, while a staggering 2.6 million remained displaced.

Following the improvement of the security situation in retaken areas, a sizable number of internally displaced Iraqis have returned to their location of origin, mainly to the Governorates of Anbar (38 per cent; more than 1.2 million people), Ninewa (30 per cent; nearly 975,000 people), and Salah al-Din (14 per cent; nearly 460,000 people). These three governorates were the worst affected by ISIL’s occupation, and count for 86 per cent of the current displaced population in the country.

Shortly after the operation to retake Mosul was launched in October 2016, IOM Iraq constructed two emergency displacement sites, one in Haj Ali and one in Qayara, with combined capacity of sheltering 110,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The sites were constructed in partnership with the Government’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement; both sites are located in the southeast of Ninewa governorate.