By John Lee.

Iraq’s Council of Ministers has approved a contract with Japan’s JGC Corporation to build a 55,000-bpd refinery in Basra province.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Oil, the new plant will create 7,000 jobs, in addition to 70,000 during the construction phase.

The General Manager of the South Refineries Company (SRC), Hussam Wali, said construction is hoped to start early next year, and be completed within four years.

The $4-billion project will be funded by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

Japan prioritizes Iraq’s health and recovery from COVID-19 in new contribution

The Government of Japan has committed US$2.26 million to support the Government of Iraq’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.

The funds will be used to purchase critical medical equipment such as ventilators, as well as assist with socio-economic needs and impact assessments to establish post-COVID-19 recovery strategies for Iraq.

The activities fall under UNDP Iraq’s overall COVID-19 response plan which is administered through the Funding Facility for Stabilization and also includes increasing the testing capacity of laboratories, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, building isolation units for infected patients and promoting social cohesion among communities.

UNDP Iraq’s Resident Representative, Zena Ali Ahmad, said:

The emergence of COVID-19 has added yet another layer of crisis upon Iraq’s already-fragile state, crippling its healthcare system, the economy and people’s livelihoods. This is deeply concerning especially for vulnerable communities that inevitably bear the brunt of such shocks.

“We’re extremely grateful for Japan’s support which is critical to not only ensuring patients receive the necessary medical care quickly and efficiently, but also to help build Iraq’s roadmap for long-term recovery post-COVID-19.

The Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, His Excellency Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto stated:

“Given that COVID-19 is raging across the world, it is crucial for the international community to make concerted efforts, and I hope that the Japan’s assistance through UNDP will help fight against COVID-19 and address socio-economic impact.

“Under such challenging circumstances, I wish to engage in and strengthen a close cooperation with the new Government of Iraq on a wide range of issues.”

Japan is one of UNDP Iraq’s key partners, providing more than $86 million since 2014 for stabilization, community security and livelihood activities.

(Source: UNDP)

Japan, UNEP deepen cooperation on plastic pollution and post-conflict recovery

Japan and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced a new cooperative effort to tackle plastic pollution across Asia and support post-conflict environmental recovery in Iraq and South Sudan. Japan will contribute US$6.9 million to four UNEP-led projects.

The bulk of the funding will fund a second phase of the CounterMEASURE project, which is determining the origins of plastic pollution in some of Asia’s major rivers and has supported establishment of local partnerships for reducing plastic pollution. The first phase of the year-long project has used novel technologies and methodologies to track plastic pollution to its sources along the Mekong and Ganges rivers.

This allows for bespoke policy recommendations to governments to help stop plastic pollution where it is leaking into waterways.

The second phase of the CounterMEASURE project will expand the work of the first, furthering policy and behavior changes in Mekong countries and India and bringing techniques to other locales, such as Sri Lanka. The second phase will also look at the impact of plastic pollution on wildlife, particularly migratory species.

A second project under the funding package will support research into how to manage and treat plastic waste throughout Asia. UNEP’s International Environmental Technology Centre will be leading the work, looking at how to deploy a digital platform to support environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

“The global pandemic COVID-19 and the generation of additional plastic waste will amplify our urgent needs to find solutions to the crisis of plastic pollution. Japan’s support and expertise in waste management is incredibly vital to finding solutions to these problems,” said Inger Andersen (pictured), Executive Director of UNEP.  “Japan has long been a committed and reliable partner to UNEP, and we are pleased to deepen this collaboration.”

Japan’s grant is intended to bolster the country’s MARINE Initiative toward the realization of its Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, aimed at reducing additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, which was announced at the G20 meeting in Osaka in 2019.

Part of the Japanese backing will also support conflict debris management in Iraq. As parts of Iraq recover from the destructive conflict with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), this project will aim to aid returnees in Kirkuk Governorate by clearing their homes and providing livelihoods through debris recycling programmes. The crushed debris will then be used in rehabilitation works.

A fourth project will help vulnerable farmers, pastoralists and internally displaced people build resilience to natural disasters under changing climatic conditions in South Sudan.

In addition to this support, Japan also provides important contributions to the Environment Fund, UNEP’s core fund. The Environment Fund is instrumental in helping countries deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, Japan contributed US$1.94 million to the Environment Fund.

(Source: UN Environment Programme)

UNHCR welcomes the Government of Japan’s contribution towards COVID-19 responses in Iraq

UNHCR welcomes the new contribution of USD 1.5 Million from the Government of Japan towards the response to COVID-19 for internally displaced persons, returnees and refugees in Iraq.

The new funding comes at a critical time when many communities, especially the most vulnerable, have been affected due to COVID-19 restrictions. This funding is supporting timely awareness-raising campaigns on the transmission and prevention of COVID-19 in addressing the needs of vulnerable displaced families, as well as ensuring access to basic hygiene items and protective gear for medical staff in primary health centres and authorities at border points.

Also, through this generous contribution UNHCR is supporting the Directorate of Health in Duhok and Erbil governorates to provide training on case definition and detection and management of suspected cases of COVID-19.

The Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, His Excellency Mr. HASHIMOTO Naofumi (pictured) stated “Given that COVID-19 is raging across the world, it is crucial for the international community to make concerted efforts, and I hope that the Japan’s assistance through UNHCR would help prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Iraq.”

He added “Under such challenging circumstances, I wish to engage in and strengthen a close cooperation with the new Government of Iraq in a wide range of issues”.

The UNHCR Acting Representative in Iraq, Ms. Philippa Candler, commented, “during this global crisis, we have been all affected. The effect on vulnerable communities is even more acute. This generous and timely contribution will assist in our efforts in the response of COVID-19. Ensuring the health of communities is part and parcel of protection.”

In response to the current situation, UNHCR has established procedures to continue providing services and maintain presence in the field. Under the current context, most basic services continue to function in camps and in areas with a high density of displaced populations. UNHCR also adapted its work modalities to ensure assistance continues to be delivered remotely including legal counselling, protection monitoring among other activities while respecting social distancing.

In response to the COVID-19 global humanitarian appeal, Japan has generously donated USD 23.9 million to urgently assist displaced communities around the world.

The Government of Japan has been one of UNHCR’s largest donors and supporters of many years.

(Source: UN)

The Government of Japan is supporting the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq’s continued efforts to leverage the security-development nexus in Iraq, providing IOM with a further USD 3.63 million in funding for 2020-21.

Iraq is grappling with the cumulative effects of past conflicts on its development, which has left the country vulnerable to renewed conflict. Now, once again, Iraq is facing concurrent crises which threaten its security and development: the COVID-19 outbreak; the collapse in global oil prices, on which the Iraqi economy heavily depends; and political deadlock which has left the country with a caretaker government since December 2019.

“The turbulence that has hit Iraq over the past six months illustrates that there is still a critical need to address economic, social, and security drivers of instability in vulnerable communities to prevent the country from backsliding into conflict,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission, Gerard Waite. “With the Government of Japan’s support, IOM continues to leverage the security-development nexus to break the cycle of conflict.”

With this support from the Government of Japan, IOM Iraq will support the Government of Iraq in leveraging the Security-Development Nexus (SDN) to promote stabilization in some of Iraq’s most vulnerable communities. IOM will place a particular focus on supporting the socio-economic reintegration of self-demobilized former combatants who are seeking to re-establish their lives in areas of origin.

“Japan has recently decided to provide a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million, including this project to reinforce the Security-Development Nexus,” said H.E. Naofumi Hashimoto (pictured), Ambassador of Japan to Iraq. “With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis has reached USD 540 million since 2014.”

“Years of conflict have had an impact on Iraq’s economic and social development, while social and economic decline has been a significant destabilizing factor. A holistic approach is needed in the security and development domains,” he added.

The project, “Leveraging the Security Development Nexus in Iraq: Support for Community Stabilization in Conflict Affected Communities”, will build upon lessons learned and good practices gathered under the 2019-20 GoJ-supported pilot project “Supporting the Security Development Nexus in Iraq”.

Under that project, over 8,500 individuals were reached with social cohesion; mediation; peacebuilding; mental health and psychosocial support activities or took part in training sessions. Twenty-eight small and medium enterprises in Tel Afar and Najaf received financial support, while 134 people received individual livelihood support. Five new Community Policing Forums were established by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) with IOM Iraq’s assistance – three in Ninewa, and two in Najaf.

In addition to social cohesion, mental health and psychosocial support, small and medium enterprise and livelihood support, IOM Iraq’s initiatives in support of the SDN will focus on establishing and enhancing Community Policing Forums, alongside the MOI, to improve communication and trust between community members and law enforcement actors.

(Source: UN)

Debris-recycling initiative seeks to bolster return of displaced in Iraq, amidst growing risks of COVID-19 outbreak

With support from the Government of Japan, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is joining forces with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to launch an innovative debris-recycling project that will help displaced persons in Kirkuk Governorate, northern Iraq, return to their homes.

“With almost 10,000 destroyed houses in Kirkuk Governorate, our priority is to enable [displaced persons] to return and rebuild their demolished homes,” said Ali Humadi, Kirkuk’s Assistant Governor for Technical Affairs.

The plight of the approximately 1.4 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq has taken on a new urgency, as they are widely recognized to be some of the most vulnerable communities to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The impact of the epidemic is exacerbated by the conditions in which the displaced live,” said Dr. Jassim Hamadi, Deputy Health and Environment Minister. “Their cramped living circumstances, both in formal camps and densely populated informal settlements, and difficulty in accessing basic services – especially healthcare – makes them extremely vulnerable to the spread of the virus.”

Emphasizing that “the presence of huge volumes of debris on peoples’ properties is the main obstacle preventing the return of at least 80 per cent of cases”, Ali Humadi welcomed sustainable solutions to the debris problem and the redoubling of efforts to facilitate returns given the ongoing public health emergency.

Kirkuk authorities estimate that from 2014 to 2017, around 8-9 million tonnes of debris were created during the conflict with so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Around two-thirds of this debris consists of concrete, blocks and stones that can be recycled, while the rest is mudbricks. A major challenge in handling this debris stems from the potential presence of unexploded ordnance.

Meanwhile, life is slowly picking-up in some of Kirkuk’s 135 destroyed villages. “It’s a citizen-led effort,” said Ibrahim Khalaf, a prominent community member from Buwaiter, a village that was razed to the ground in June 2015.

Buwaiter is one of many villages along the front lines separating militants from the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in southern Kirkuk from Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the north. This large belt of land, that stretches over 65 kilometres and divides Kirkuk Governorate in half, was until recently a no man’s land emptied of its inhabitants as entire villages were levelled flat.

“People are trying to do what they can to rebuild their homes with their meager resources,” Khalaf said. He further asserted that “that just removing the debris from one house can cost around 2.5 million Iraqi dinars (USD 2,000).” This amount is well beyond the means of many families affected by the conflict, and around half of Buwaiter’s nearly 1,000 inhabitants are unable to return as a result.

IOM Iraq estimates that there are still around 60,000 IDPs in Kirkuk.

“The most important thing now is to clear all this debris, and if possible, help people reconstruct their homes,” Khalaf noted.

“We are at a loss for what to do with all this debris,” said Hassan Nassif, the head of Multaqa sub-district whose 35 villages, including Buwaiter, were wiped out during the conflict. He went on to decry “the chaotic dumping of debris in seasonal wadis and despoiling of agricultural land, which will surely create problems for the future”.

By practically demonstrating the potential for debris recycling through this pilot project, UNEP aims to apply a circular vision to the debris problem, transforming it into part of the solution in partnership with IOM. This includes not only facilitating safe returns, but also generating livelihood opportunities through Cash for Work activities, carrying out more cost-effective reconstruction by reusing crushed rubble, and better environmental management.

The project is being implemented in close collaboration with the Kirkuk authorities and the Ministry of Health and Environment, and benefits from valuable facilitation support from the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

“Crushing the rubble is a pragmatic and straightforward answer, offering a ray of hope in dealing with our massive challenges, including creating jobs for displaced youth,” Nassif added. “We stand ready to support this initiative and look forward to expanding this recycling approach in Multaqa and Kirkuk.”

H.E. Hashimoto Naofumi, Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, said: , “Japan has recently decided to provide a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million including this project as assistance for debris recycling in Kirkuk Governorate.
With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches USD 540 million since 2014″.

He went on to say, “Japan is pleased to invest in addressing this overlooked debris problem and support a sustainable return process that integrates the humanitarian, reconstruction and environmental angles of the question.”

As part of this one-year project, which starts this month, UNEP also plans to work closely with Kirkuk Governorate’s recently created Debris Working Group and the Environment Ministry to strengthen their capacity to develop and apply optimal debris management plans.

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) welcomes an additional contribution of USD 3.6 million from the Government of Japan to support reconstruction and peacebuilding in Iraq through the rehabilitation of war-damaged houses and construction of low-cost housing units in Sinjar, Ninewa Governorate.

Under the new phase of this project, UN-Habitat will improve living conditions in Sinjar through a comprehensive urban recovery approach, including

(a) rehabilitation of public spaces and infrastructure,

(b) construction of low-cost housing units to accommodate returnees whose houses are totally destroyed and have not received any support for rehabilitation or reconstruction of their houses, and

(c) vocational training. Graduates of the vocational training will be employed for rehabilitation and construction activities implemented by UN-Habitat, which will contribute to rebuilding their livelihoods.

His Excellency Mr. Hashimoto Naofumi, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq, stated:

Japan has recently decided to provide a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million including this project as assistance for conflict-affected areas in Ninewa Governorate. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches USD 540 million since 2014.

“I hope that the assistance from the Government and people of Japan will help rebuild livelihoods of affected communities through rehabilitating community infrastructure and housing units“.

UN-Habitat is grateful to the people and the Government of Japan for their continuous generous support which allows integration of the New Urban Agenda and physical interventions for post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding.

In line with the New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat is committed to promote adequate services, accommodation and decent job opportunities for conflict-affected persons in urban settings.

With a contribution of approximately $55 million since 2015, the Government of Japan has been a vital partner to UN-Habitat’s Iraq Programme.

(Source: Reliefweb)

The Government of Japan has contributed US$ 1.3 million towards UNFPA interventions for integrated lifesaving reproductive health and gender-based violence services to vulnerable women and girls in five governorates across Iraq.

UNFPA has been adopting an integrated approach to enable women and girls to receive a comprehensive package of services, continuum of care, as well as timely referrals.

The Japanese contribution will ensure that 40,000 women and girls, out of whom 25,000 are pregnant women, from the IDP, returnee, and refugees in the humanitarian settings in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din governorates, have access to prevention and response to reproductive health and gender-based violence services which include awareness-raising sessions and case management, as well as consultations and treatment.

In addition, the new commitment will enable UNFPA to improve the capacity of national service providers, especially female caregivers, to deliver high-quality assistance, including psychosocial and referral services in the targeted five governorates.

Dr Oluremi Sogunro, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, said:

We are thankful for Japan’s trust in UNFPA programme in Iraq … Women and girls continue to suffer from the impact of the humanitarian crisis.

“Thanks to Japan’s trust, we will ensure that not only we provide the muchneeded reproductive health and gender-based violence services but we strengthen the existing national capacities to build the resilience of the system.”

His Excellency Mr Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, stated:

“Japan has recently decided to provide a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million including this project as assistance for women and girls.

“With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches US$ 540 million since 2014. I hope that the assistance from the Government and people of Japan will help ensure protection of women and girls among IDP, returnee and refugees.”

Japan has been a UNFPA long-standing partner with contributions amounting to a total of US$ 11,852,085 over the last five years ensuring women and girls across Iraq have access to health and protection services.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled

(Source: UN)

UNHCR welcomes funding from Japan to assist vulnerable displaced persons in Iraq

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the generous contribution of USD 5 million from the Government and people of Japan to protect and assist internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and refugees across Iraq.
This brings Japan’s total contribution to Iraq during the past six years to USD 100 million.

With Japan’s support, UNHCR will ensure the provision of legal assistance to up to 6,000 internally displaced individuals and 2,800 Syrian refugees, along with improved protection monitoring and enhanced access to civil documentation, as well as with psychosocial counselling and strengthened prevention and response activities for sexual and gender-based violence.

H.E. Mr. Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq, expressed Japan’s commitment to providing assistance to vulnerable displaced individuals in Iraq and emphasized:

Japan has recently decided new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million including this project as assistance for IDPs, returnees and Syrian refugees.

“With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches USD 540 million since 2014. I hope that the assistance from the Government and people of Japan will help provide necessary services to the vulnerable people in need.

Philippa Candler, UNHCR Acting Representative in Iraq:

The Government of Japan has been one of UNHCR’s most important contributors in recent years. The longstanding and ongoing cooperation between Japan and UNHCR has enabled the operation to continue providing protection and humanitarian assistance to thousands of vulnerable displaced families in Iraq.

“This assistance shows the strong and unwavering commitment of Japan to address the needs of displaced populations in Iraq as the country works towards stabilisation and recovery. With ongoing support, we will continue to assist and protect those affected by displacement.”

While the situation in Iraq has notably improved during the past years and the country is steadily transitioning and advancing into a new post-conflict phase, thousands of vulnerable displaced families remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance. With over 1.4 million displaced Iraqis, 4.6 million returnees, and 288,000 refugees, needs are huge and ongoing assistance is essential to continue ensuring a stable and peaceful recovery.

(Source: UN)

The Japanese Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Hashimoto Naofumi (pictured), and Representative of UNESCO to Iraq, Mr. Paolo Fontani, on Tuesday 3rd of March 2020 signed an agreement in Baghdad in support of the project to support job creation for youth in Mosul.

The project aims to foster sustainable job creation for youth supporting the return of IDPs through quality TVET training for skilled construction workers.

The project will be implemented in synergy with other UNESCO activities under the umbrella initiative ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ to coordinate international efforts in revitalizing educational and cultural institutions in Mosul, in close cooperation with the Government and the people of Iraq. This project will have linkages to the EU project “Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities”.

Director and Representative of UNESCO Iraq Office praised this innovative contribution:

“UNESCO is very grateful to the Government and the people of Japan. The project will empower young people in Mosul through supporting employment and self-employment and reduce the likelihood of marginalization and extremism.”

Ambassador Hashimoto highlighted:

“Japan has recently decided new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 41 million including this project as assistance for youth in Mosul. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches USD 540 million since 2014.

“I hope that the assistance from the Government and people of Japan will help foster sustainable job creation for youth in Mosul in reconstruction efforts”.

Japan has long been a valued donor to UNESCO in Iraq. In 2019, the Government of Japan supported the project “Voices of the children of Old Mosul: the rehabilitation and management of primary schools in historic urban context emerging from conflict”.

The project lays the ground for a holistic approach to the prevention of violent extremism in primary education with the provision of training to support the four key elements that influence the experience of children’s learning: parents, teachers, school principals and school policies and procedures.

(Source: UN)