The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, inaugurated its new office In Sulaymaniya [Slemani] under the patronage of the First Lady of Iraq – Ms. Serbagh Saleh; and with the participation of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Marta Ruedas; FAO Representative a.i. for Iraq Mr. René Verduijn; the Governor of Sulaymaniyah Dr. Hafal Abu Bakr; the Head of the Provincial Council Azad Mohammed Amin; and the Director General of Sulaymaniyah’s Directorate of Agriculture.

The meeting was addressed by the First Lady who thanked FAO for its leading and effective role in combating famine and securing food around the world and in Iraq. She also highlighted the importance of promoting bio-diversity in the region.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Ruedas, said that, “the inauguration of the new FAO Office symbolizes the interest of the UN to support the people of Sulaymaniya in achieving long-term, sustainable development.”

“It also shows the importance of investing in the Agriculture and Water Sectors, but we should be reminded to also reduce the water pollution the sector generates,” she added.

On his part, the FAO Resident Representative, a.i., Mr. Verduijn, expressed his gratitude to the First Lady for her contribution to promoting bio-diversity, in particular her work as a co-founder of the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation that is committed to establish a gene/ seed bank in Sulaymaniya and her efforts as an activist in defense of women’s rights.

“FAO in Iraq is keen on promoting agriculture to help achieve economic growth, a stable society, food and nutrition security for all and improving bio-diversity. We feel strongly towards supporting Iraq in face of the numerous challenges it faces in terms of agriculture and water through promoting Good Agriculture Practices and improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods”, said Mr. Verduijn.

The new office comes at a significant moment as the country moves away from emergency towards more development to provide structural support to the sub-sectors, and people’s livelihoods.

The new UN office is located within the Directorate of Agriculture in Sulaymaniyah. In April, FAO celebrated its 40th anniversary of the establishment of FAO in Iraq in 1979. Assistance has targeted a wide range of sub-sectors, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, and has proved to be successful in supporting agricultural research and extension institutes over years of stability, sanctions and conflict. The inauguration of the new office is another landmark in the organization’s efforts to reinforce its technical programs for the benefit of the people of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

(Picture credit: Diyar Muhammed)

UN Women, Office of the President of the Republic of Iraq sign MoU to promote gender equality, empowerment of women

UN Women in Iraq and the Office of the President of the Republic of Iraq signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 15 April 2019 providing a framework of cooperation in areas of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The MoU, signed by UN Women Representative Dina Zorba and the Iraqi President’s Adviser for Gender and Civil Society, Ms. Khanim Latif, provides for cooperation in technical fields, research and advocacy.

UN Women and the Office of the President will cooperate in promoting enabling frameworks for the realisation of women’s rights as well as government-wide mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The MoU works also to promote sustainable institutional capacities to ensure Iraq’s alignment with its international human rights commitments.

In particular, the MoU seeks to ensure a gender-based response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a focus on building the capacity of women representatives to perform their role in the political and decision-making spheres. Furthermore, it provides for harmonising policy approaches in the areas of national reconciliation, peace building, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.

The MoU also aims to strengthen the database for women’s issues in order to inform and guide evidence-based advocacy. The effort includes enhancing the process of regularly producing gender statistics and cooperation in all stages of research, in addition to improving access to research findings and data by users, including women.

UN Women and the President’s Office will also collaborate in strengthening the momentum for the advancement of women’s agenda in Iraq through joint advocacy and outreach efforts. The two sides will work on informing and influencing the national discourse on the elimination of legislative, social and economic barriers for women’s realisation and recognition of their rights, including in the areas of women’s economic empowerment, participation in the decision-making process, ending gender-based violence and promoting women’s active participation in the political sphere.

In addition, the two sides will advocate for the establishment of a mechanism for women that is capable of coordinating the issues of women with the aim of ensuring the political, social, cultural and economic empowerment of women towards achieving gender equality. The signing ceremony was attended by Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Marta Ruedas and advisers to the Iraqi President.

(Source: UN)

Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development

The Steering Committee of the programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development held its first annual meeting in Erbil, on 17 April 2019. The programme is funded by the European Union (EU) with €47.5 million over 4 years, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The Steering Committee endorsed the programme’s workplan, identifying key priority projects to be implemented in nine Governorates: Anbar, Basra, Duhok, Erbil, Missan, Ninewah, Salah al-Din, Sulaimaniyah, and Thi Qar. The projects derived from the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans, developed under the flagship Local Area Development Programme (LADP II) that concluded in mid 2018.

The programme revolves around supporting the decentralization of powers from central to local authorities, including through the development of institutional capacities, the optimization of revenue generation systems, peer-to-peer partnerships with EU local authorities, and the empowerment of civil society to advocate for local development causes.

Minister of Planning at the Federal Government of Iraq, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, said: “Today, we endorsed a robust workplan addressing local priorities, such as decentralization, job creation and public services, in areas where needed most. With this endorsement, we renew our commitment to work closely with our strategic partners towards making sustainable, inclusive local development a reality.”

Minister of Planning at the Kurdistan Regional Government, Dr. Ali Sindi, noted: “Our past joint efforts under the EU-funded LADP II produced the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans. We are glad to be building upon this achievement, with the support of UNDP, to move to the next level of executing sustainable energy, environmental action and climate change adaptation initiatives.”

Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Ambassador Ramon Blecua, said:

The European Union continues to show its commitment in supporting local development in Iraq. The Steering Committee meeting held today, was a great opportunity to agree all together on concrete actions to be implemented at local level in the next months.

“I am happy to see this new programme in full implementation mode and look forward to its quick results, so to deliver services and livelihoods opportunities and make a difference in daily life of the Iraqi population.

Officer-in-Charge of UNDP Iraq, Mr. Vakhtang Svanidze, said:

“Under this EU-funded programme, we will do our utmost to help Iraqis in their pursuit of effective local governance for improved living conditions to all, especially the most vulnerable. This is of paramount importance to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Iraq in the long run.”

Head of UNDP Office in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I), Ms. Isabela Uribe, reiterated:

“I am more than glad that we are going local with practical solutions touching people’ s daily life. Thanks to the generosity of the EU, with ample cooperation of the federal and local authorities and the hard work of UNDP and UN-Habitat, an inclusive, transparent and cutting edge approach to local development is going to place citizens in the driving seat of a new social agenda.”

Under the new programme, UN-Habitat will contribute to the stability and socio-economic development of Iraq by improving living conditions and enhancing service delivery at the local level, through urban recovery investments and job opportunities in conflict-affected areas, and revenue generation in five governorates.

Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, a.i., Ms. Yuko Otsuki , stated that “immediate interventions will prioritize urban recovery activities, such as the rehabilitation of damaged housing and schools, repairs to secondary infrastructure through job creation and skill enhancement, and involving youth in the redesign and recovery of public spaces.”

A decision-making body, the Steering Committee is comprised of Iraq’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Ali Sindi, as well as the Governors of the aforementioned Governorates where the programme will be active. Members also include UNDP and UN-Habitat as implementing partners, along with the EU Head of Delegation and Delegation Cooperation Section as donor representatives.

Governorate representatives signed the Charter of Principles that sets out an agreed upon framework between each Governorate, UNDP and UN-Habitat. The framework defines roles and responsibilities and will govern the implementation of the programme.

The programme fact sheet can be downloaded through this link: https://bit.ly/2Wlw17e.

(Source: UN)

Empowering women in Iraq through Gender Equality Tool Seal

Gender mainstreaming is the cornerstone of development and peacebuilding, it occupied a very important part in SDGs and Agenda 2030. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had developed an assessment tool to track gender equality in the public institutions, in order to create a baseline and to prioritize the work for the coming years.

This tool is divided into six parts related to tracking progress on gender equality goals: Framework, capacities, enabling environment, partnership and engagement, laws, policies and programmes and results and impact.

A workshop was held on Public Sector Gender Equality Seal in Dec. 2018, in addition to two consultations meetings with the Women Empowerment Directorate in the General Secretariat for the Council of Ministries and the Ministry of Planning (MoP), to choose the public institutions which will be assessed.

As a result, the Women Empowerment Directorate was chosen as an implementer for the Gender Equality Tool, due to its mandate in empowering women in Iraq, and for being the umbrella for gender units and departments all over the ministries, which can be used to implement the tool.

Deputy Minister of Planning, Dr. Maher Johan, stressed the importance to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 agenda, particularly SDG 5 which states on achieving gender equality and empowering women, and SDG 16 which states on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, and also agreed on selecting MoP as a sample.

UNDP in cooperation with Women Empowerment Directorate and MoP conducted a workshop on 7th Jan. 2019 in Baghdad, attended by 39 representatives from the gender units of line ministries. The workshop presented the Tool of Gender Equality Seal in order to enhance the capacities of Women Empowerment Department to implement the tool in Public Sector, and discussed the important of Gender Statistics as well as it presented the gender mainstreaming into the national development plans and strategies.

It was mentioned by the Deputy Country Director Mr. Vakhtang Svanidze that:

“UNDP chose Iraq to be part in this pilot as we believe that the Government of Iraq had taken critical steps towards gender equality and women empowerment in different levels, in additional to its efforts to implement the sustainable development goals and leaving no one behind. This pilot is an opportunity for Iraq to share its work globally, and advance gender participation within public-sector institutions”.

This workshop was part of the efforts to integrate SDG 5 into policies and plans, UNDP cooperation with gender units on the Gender Equality Seal Tool which has been developed by UNDP to measure Gender Mainstreaming within institutions will create solid working places.

Gender mainstreaming is considered as one of the main pillars of the mandate of gender departments, in coordination and follow up with gender units and departments within Iraqi’s ministries and provinces. this tool will be the bedrock for true and genuine work to empower women in Iraq.

(Source: UNDP)

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)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq welcomes an additional contribution of DKK 73 million (over USD 11 million) from the Government of Denmark to mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards and enable stabilization efforts in liberated areas of Iraq.

The scale, scope, and complexity of explosive hazard contamination in liberated areas is substantial, and far exceeds the existing national resources to clear them.

This multi-year contribution (2019 to 2021) from the Government of Denmark is critical to the continuation of operations and brings the total Danish support for UNMAS work in Iraq to DKK 165,500,000 (approximately USD 26 million).

Through strategic partnerships and engagement of both internal and external stakeholders, and in support of the Government of Iraq and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNMAS has so far cleared over 1,400 critical infrastructure sites. These include bridges, water treatment and power plants, hospitals and schools. All littered with explosive hazards following the defeat of ISIL.

With this contribution from Denmark, UNMAS will be able to better support the safe, orderly, voluntary and dignified return of displaced communities through explosive hazard management, risk education, and capacity enhancement initiatives in support of the Iraqi government.

Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Anders Samuelsen (pictured) underlined the importance of explosive threat mitigation for the return of IDPs:

“We are painfully aware that the return of internally displaced persons to some kind of normal life is not possible as long as explosive hazards threaten their life and safety. That is why UNMAS’ work remains so critical.”

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS in Iraq, said:

Explosive hazards are found everywhere: in infrastructure, schools, hospitals, homes and under bridges. They are mixed with the rubble, and are found in rural and urban areas, sometimes visible, but often hidden, waiting for potential victims. They must all be cleared before communities are safe.

“UNMAS has been in Iraq for just over three years, and we still have a long way to go. We are very grateful for this generous contribution from Denmark that will allow us to continue our work in explosive hazard management and simultaneously save lives in the process.

(Source: UN)

Iraq’s Ministry of Planning and the Council of Ministers Secretariat, together with UN-Habitat, publicly launched the National Platform for Reconstruction and Development.

For more than one year, UN-Habitat has been working very closely with the Ministry of Planning to develop and finalize the Platform, with generous funding support from the Iraq UNDAF Trust Fund, which is a multi-donor trust fund.

The Platform provides up-to-date key information on reconstruction and development projects. It is a web-based GIS data system that contains analytical reports, statistical data for projects, as well as interactive maps of projects locations. By sharing project information, the Platform will enable relevant actors to avoid duplication and coordinate for better planning.

Now accessible to public and with interactive window, the Platform will also allow the Government of Iraq to receive feedback from its citizens on the reconstruction and development projects, helping to build trust between the Government and people.

H.E. Dr. Mahdi Al-Allaq, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, stated that “the Platform will advance delivery of the commitments made at the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq”.

H.E. Dr. Noori Al-Dulaimi, Minister of Planning, commented that “through the Platform, projects will be managed in a transparent manner and monitored by the international community”.

Ms. Marta Ruedas, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, stated that the Platform provides an overview of the projects implemented, and enables evidence-based planning and decision making.

The Data Platform is accessible at: https://mnpcd.gov.iq/

(Source: UN)

  • Test results from international laboratories confirm that the death of millions of farmed carp in Iraq in late 2018 was caused by fish disease, not pollution.
  • The carp suffered from the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV), a lethal disease known to cause almost 100 percent mortality rates in carps.
  • Based on these results, we can therefore rule out that chemical contamination played a role in the fish kill, which should reassure the public that the farmed carp is safe to eat.

On 26 October 2018, a major fish kill episode that wiped out millions of mostly caged farmed carp in Iraq’s central Euphrates region sent the country into major panic. Fear spread that the fish kill was caused by a mysterious pollution that could also poison people, whilst fish farmers agonized over their losses as the source of their livelihoods abruptly vanished.

Deeming the fish kill a national security issue, Iraq’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Dr. Adel Abdul Mahdi, immediately assembled a crisis team led by the Ministry of Health and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture to investigate its causes and take appropriate remedial measures.

“The scale of the fish kill was so huge, we had excavators working for four days clearing the fish from the river,” affirmed Dr. Ala Alwan, Iraq’s Minister of Health and Environment, who personally inspected the situation on the ground once news of the incident broke out. “We also used oil spill booms to contain and prevent the fish from drifting downstream, especially as many fish farmers rashly dumped the dead carp into the Euphrates River,” he added.

Faced with this unprecedented massive fish mortality, the Iraqi Government decided to request emergency technical assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment to help determine the cause of the sudden die off.

Fish and environmental samples were collected by the Ministry of Health and Environment based on UN Environment’s advice from the epicentre of the fish kill incident near Al-Musayab, Babel governorate, approximately 70 kilometres south of Baghdad. Since 2011, this area had become a thriving hub for Iraq’s growing fish farming industry where a rapid expansion in the use of floating river cages to grow common carp (Cyprinus carpio) became established. At the same time, “the high density of fish cages almost back-to-back for kilometres, coupled with extreme overstocking, contravened national regulations,” cautioned Minister Alwan.

UN Environment, WHO and FAO rapidly organized for the fish, water, sediment and fish feed samples to be shipped to internationally-accredited laboratories. Comprehensive chemical and microbiological tests were carried out by three different laboratories, including in Switzerland, Jordan and Italy.

For all the samples taken by the Ministry of Health and Environment, test results showed no significant contamination from heavy metals, hydrocarbons or pesticides. “Unlike water, which only gives a snapshot of environmental conditions at a specific point in time, sediment acts as a storage reservoir for contaminants,” explained Dr. John Pote, Head of the Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Geneva, who coordinated the laboratory study commissioned by UN Environment.

“Based on these results, we can therefore rule out that chemical contamination played a role in the fish kill, which should reassure the public that the farmed carp is safe to eat,” he added. These conclusions were also shared by Mr. Ahmed El-Olimat, Deputy Head of Quality and Laboratory Affairs in Ministry of Water and Agriculture in Jordan, who coordinated the test of the water samples sent by WHO to Jordan.

DNA tests run by the Swiss National Fish Disease Laboratory and Reference Laboratory for Notifiable Diseases found the presence of the Cyprinid herpesvirus (CyHV-3) in all fish samples examined, confirming Iraqi scientists’ suspicions that the fish kill was caused by a disease outbreak. They had observed white or brown patches on the gills of afflicted fish as critical clinical signs of an infection. Furthermore, the mortality only affected farmed carp and not wild fish. Virologic analysis commissioned by WHO and FAO – in Jordan and Italy respectively – also confirmed the Swiss laboratories’ findings.

“WHO was very concerned about this incident which could have posed a public health risk to communities in Babylon governorate and beyond. However, after confirming that the outbreak is due to a viral infection, WHO is confident that fish consumption has no effect on human health,” confirmed Mr. Mohamed Hamasha, Senior Environmental Health Expert and Mr. Soren Madison, Food Safety Adviser at WHO.

“High loads of Cyprinid herpesvirus DNA in the gill, kidney and brain fish tissue revealed that the carp suffered from the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) disease,” affirmed Dr. Thomas Wahli, who heads the Swiss Reference Laboratory for Notifiable Diseases. “KHV is a very serious and lethal disease that is known to cause almost 100 percent mortality rates in carps,” he added. The Principal Virologist at the UK’s International Centre of Excellence for Aquatic Animal Health (CEFAS), Dr. Richard Paley, also agreed that “while overstocking and transient water quality issues such as low dissolved oxygen levels may have stressed the fish and helped propagate the virus, given the current information, one can reasonably conclude that the root cause of this mass fish kill episode is KHV disease.”

With Euphrates River water temperature dropping to 23-25°C in November, an optimal environment was created for the CyHV-3 virus, which flourishes between 16-28°C. Reports of similar small-scale fish kill incidents in multiple pockets in western and central Iraq further validated the occurrence of a wider epidemic.

“The outbreak may represent development of the disease in latently infected fish due to stressor events or perhaps more likely, based on the size of the event, introduction of infected animals into naïve stocks with no previous exposure or immune protection, indicating a recent introduction”, reckoned Dr. Paley.

“This is the first case of Koi Herpes Virus disease in Iraq, and it is a significant case report which will need to be notified to the World Organisation for Animal Health,” underlined Minister Alwan.

“We are pleased to have been able to get to the bottom of this difficult case and intend to build on this experience to improve our environmental surveillance and diagnostic capacity, particularly for viral diseases, so that we can properly investigate such events. Meanwhile, we need to control fish farm numbers and raise farmers’ awareness on the appropriate procedures to follow to prevent and rapidly contain similar outbreaks in the future,” he asserted.

(Source: UN Environment Programme)

WFP supports Iraq in modernising its Public Distribution System

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Iraq have launched an initiative to digitise the national public distribution system (PDS).

The first phase of digitisation will reach nearly 1.3 million people in and around Baghdad and Dohuk.

The PDS is Iraq’s biggest social safety net, providing food entitlements to almost the entire population in Iraq of 39 million people.

WFP is providing technical support to the government as it starts using identification technology and a citizen database to reduce processing time, improve service and maximise resources.

“The initiative guarantees the most efficient use of government resources and ensures that the intended citizens receive their food entitlement,” said WFP Country Director and Representative in Iraq Sally Haydock at the launch in Baghdad. “We’re using digitisation to better serve Iraqi citizens through this key social safety net.”

With WFP’s support, the government will move to a digitised system where citizens’ data is safely encrypted and stored, and where security is enhanced using fingerprints or iris scans. This will allow the government to identify and remove duplicate records as well as conduct biometric verification at the time of food collection. The new system replaces the current paper-based system.

WFP is also designing a mobile application, myPDS, that people can use to collect their entitlements as well as to update their family information about births, deaths and marriages – at their convenience, using personal smartphones.

“The ministry is working on updating data as we put in place technology-based solutions that address people’s needs,” said the Iraqi Minister of Trade Mohammed Hashem Al-Ani.

WFP is partnering on the initiative with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade. Modernising the PDS is one of the priorities of Iraq’s National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2018 – 2022). WFP’s partnership with the ministry dates to the early 1990s when WFP established a database for the PDS.

(Source: WFP)

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)