By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Despite several proposals to solve the crises in Iraq and in spite of using different tactics such as promises and threats, the Iraqi government is unable to stop the protests and is unable to convince protesters to go home.

Special Representative for Iraq and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert met with Iraq’s top Shiite authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in Najaf on Nov. 11 to discuss political solutions to the ongoing protests.

Following the meeting, Hennis-Plasschaert noted that “the religious authority is concerned about the lack of seriousness among the political forces to undertake reforms.”

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UNAMI launches dedicated reporting e-mail for human rights violations

To further strengthen and expand its fact-finding efforts on human rights violations and abuses, particularly in relation to the ongoing protests, UNAMI has set up a dedicated e-mail address: humanrightsiraq@un.org.

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (pictured):

I encourage anyone with relevant information – whether witness or victim accounts, photos or video footage – to send them to us at this address.

“We continue to monitor and document human rights violations, cases of abduction, threats and intimidation country-wide as well as to raise them with relevant authorities.

In the last two weeks UNAMI has issued two special reports outlining serious human rights violations and abuses in the context of the demonstrations and making specific recommendations to the government to protect the rights of peaceful demonstrators seeking change.

All information received on the dedicated e-mail will be handled with strict confidentiality.

(Source: UNAMI)

By John Lee.

On Sunday, the UN issued the following statement on the crisis facing Iraq:

Over the past weeks, demonstrations erupted in Baghdad and other governorates in Iraq. Protester demands cover a wide spectrum of issues, including economic growth and employment, reliable public services, prudent and impartial governance, an end to corruption, credible elections as well as broader reform of the political system – including amendments to the constitution.

An accumulation of frustrations about the lack of progress in the last 16 years is clearly perceptible, and with rising numbers of deaths and injured (both protesters and members of the Iraqi Security Forces) a climate of anger and fear has set in. The Iraqi people cannot afford to be held back by the past nor by partisan interests.

Rising hope asks for a leap forward, including the understanding that – in today’s digital age – daily life has moved online. Meanwhile, the risk of ‘spoilers’ hijacking peaceful demonstrations is increasing and potentially derailing any attempt at genuine change. Time is therefore of the essence, as are tangible results.

To start with, and following consultations with a wide range of Iraqi parties, actors and authorities (including the three Presidencies, the Supreme Judicial Council, protesters and union representatives), the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) proposes the following principles and measures:

PRINCIPLES

The following principles apply to all parties at all times:

  1. Protect the right to life above all.
  2. Guarantee the right to peaceful assembly, demonstration and freedom of expression,
    as granted in the constitution.
  3. Practice maximum restraint in the handling of the protests, including no use of live ammunition, ban the improper use of non-lethal devices (such as tear gas canisters).
  4. Deliver full accountability for perpetrators and redress for victims.
  5. Act in keeping with the law, including in regard to public and private properties.

MEASURES

Immediate measures (less than a week) include:

  1. Release all peaceful demonstrators detained since 1 October, in accordance with the law.
  2. No peaceful demonstrators shall be targeted.
  3. Initiate full investigation of cases of abduction (including by making available CCTV footage), and reveal the identity of those responsible.
  4. Accelerate the identification and prosecution of those responsible for targeting demonstrators.
  5. Prosecute and punish those responsible for the excessive use of force and/or other violent acts, in accordance with the law.
  6. Publicly call on all regional and international parties not to interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs, respecting its sovereignty.

Short term measures (within one week to two weeks) include:

  1. Electoral reform: With the technical support of the UN, a single legal framework shall be finalized. Soon after, the framework shall be submitted to the Council of Representatives (CoR). The parliamentary procedure shall be completed as soon as possible.
  2. Security Sector Reform: Executive Order 237 shall be fully implemented without delay. Any weapons outside state control shall be prohibited. Any outlaw armed entity or rogue element shall be considered illegal and it is the state’s responsibility to take them on.
  3. Corruption: The political elite shall lead by example, for instance by publicly declaring their assets – at home and abroad, held under their own name or another. Additionally, political parties/blocs and movements shall abolish their economic committees.

Medium term measures (within one to three months) include:

  1. Constitution: With the technical support of the UN, the Constitutional Review Committee shall continue its work. Any amendment to the constitution shall be put to referendum by the people of Iraq.
  2. Corruption: The Commission of Integrity shall submit corruption cases to the High Judicial Council or the Central Anti-Corruption Court. The Central Anti-Corruption Court shall handle corruption cases at all levels of the state. All corrupt officials will be held accountable and prosecuted.
  3. Enactment of laws: The Government shall send the following draft laws to the CoR, and the CoR shall complete its due process as soon as possible:
    1. A law addressing the principle: ‘Where did you get this from?
    2. The Federal Court Law
    3. The Social Security Law
    4. Law on resolving the Housing Crisis
    5. The Oil and Gas (Hydrocarbon) Law
    6. Amending the Law on Encouraging Investments and Public-Private Sector Partnership
    7. The Council of Ministers and Ministries Law
    8. The Reconstruction Council Law

(Source: UNAMI)

Iraq protests: UN calls for national talks to break ‘vicious cycle’ of violence

Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said she had gone to Tahrir Square to engage with the people, and listen to their concerns, as part of the UN’s continuous efforts to promote dialogue with the Government, as news reports suggest that Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, is facing growing calls to resign.

More than 220 have reportedly been killed across Iraq since the first anti-Government protests began at the start of October. Some protesters have ignored a curfew, and are demanding better public services, more job opportunities and an end to alleged large-scale corruption.

In a statement released by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, UNAMI, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert, said that the whole of Iraqi society needed to “unite against the perils of division and inaction. Standing together, Iraqis can find the common ground needed to shape a better future for all”.

She also told protesters that “no government could comprehensively tackle the legacy of the past, and the present challenges, in just one year in office.”

On Tuesday, she released a forceful statement condemning all violence saying that it was “never the answer, the protection of life is the overriding imperative.” She condemned the alarming reports that live fire had been used against demonstrators in the Shia stronghold of Kerbala, causing a “high number of casualties”. News reports say that up to 18 had died, with hundreds injured, but officials have denied there were any fatalities.

Brutal and ‘heart-breaking’ use of force against demonstrators

In a press release from a group of independent UN human rights experts released on Tuesday, they called on the Government and security forces to “prevent and cease violence immediately” against protesters, and ensure that those responsible for the “unlawful use of force are investigated and prosecuted.”

Experts said that during the earlier week of protest from 1-9 October, security personnel had used live fire, rubber bullets and armoured vehicles, coupled with the “indiscriminate use” of tear gas, water cannon and stun grenades.

Since 25 October, Iraqi security forces, particularly in Baghdad, appear to have shown more restraint than in the earlier demonstrations, however, reports continue of excessive use of less lethal means, causing injuries and some deaths, said the experts.

The situation in some southern governorates, in which armed individuals have used live fire against demonstrators while protecting political offices requires urgent attention, they added.

“We express our utter dismay at the use of excessive force and violence by Iraqi security forces and other armed elements against demonstrators,” said the experts. “It is incomprehensible – and heart-breaking – that such a brutal response can be levelled against Iraqis simply wanting to express their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.”

“The Iraqi State has a duty to protect those exercising their right to peaceful assembly, including from violent non-state actors”, they concluded.

(Source: UN)

Today on World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) renewed their commitment to supporting the government of Iraq in ensuring that all Iraqis have food security by 2030, with a focus on nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods.

“World Food Day is when we confirm and work to achieve our commitment towards Zero Hunger. In Iraq, FAO will be further cooperating with WFP to provide capacity development and rural income generation programmes for farmers.

FAO is supporting the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, value chains development, the fishery sector and introducing smart agriculture practices in response to country priorities and climate change impact,” said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan.

The 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and WFP fosters closer collaboration on longer-term initiatives. Activities will include restoring irrigation canals, instituting sustainable practices such as planting productive trees, and providing inputs such as seeds and tools.

Through such programmes, vulnerable people will receive an income, can get back to work following displacement due to conflict, and continue to farm and grow their own food.

As well as enhanced nutrition awareness for Iraqi citizens, in the coming year, climate change adaptation will be a priority so that communities are better able to recover from climate-related shocks. FAO and WFP are striving to build social cohesion through collective livelihoods rehabilitation. WFP recently reopened its office in Basra to help coordinate activities next year in the south, where vulnerability and poverty indicators are worst.

“In this rehabilitation phase, FAO and WFP are working on livelihoods projects to bring communities together, and contribute to improving long-term self-sufficiency,” said Abdirahman Meygag, WFP Iraq Representative. “We see our climate change adaptation activities as being crucial for food security and the country’s recovery.”

FAO and WFP will also share expertise on information management and assessments, for evidence-based programming that targets the most vulnerable. Programmes are designed together with the government, for and with communities. The two agencies will also coordinate with partners on livelihoods activities, to maximise income-generating opportunities for those in most need.

(Source: UN)

On Saturday night (12/10) almost 200 Syrian Kurds started crossing the border into Iraq’s Kurdistan Region (KRI) to escape bombardments in North Eastern Syria. The families crossed unofficial entry points into KRI, through the villages of Masaka and Sahela.

A day after their entry into Iraq, 182 Syrians were brought by local security forces to a processing center near the Sahela border in Duhok, KRI’s northernmost governorate.

IOM deployed Rapid Assessment and Response Teams (RART) in Sahela, to receive the Syrian families and evaluate their fitness to travel further.

Three medical professionals, including one psychologist, were on-site to carry out emergency health assessments. Roughly 30 patients sat for consultations; children were mostly found to be suffering from upper respiratory tract infections, tonsillitis and the flu; while among adults some of the health issues examined by the doctors were post-surgery complications, hyperthyroidism, and asthma.

The medical team also assisted two pregnant women, who were found to be in stable condition.

All patients were examined and given the necessary treatment where available. For cases that could not be treated immediately, follow up care will be organized.

At the processing centre, IOM has also provided food and drinks for the families. All individuals were then transferred by bus to Domiz 1 – a refugee camp in Duhok Governorate.

“IOM Iraq is gravely concerned by the emerging crisis in Northern Syria, that is putting thousands of already vulnerable individuals in harm’s way,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

“In collaboration with UN partners, IOM Iraq will support Syrians as they cross the border, and protect and assist those in need.”

IOM Iraq will continue to monitor arrivals the border. A REMAP study, linked to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) initiative, will be carried out to assess the numbers of Syrians crossing into Iraq through official border points.

IOM Iraq will support the UN response to these inflows by providing transportation that can take Syrian families from the reception facilities to the camps; Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) services; health assessments (including mental health and psychosocial consultations) especially at the border; by monitoring flows for the production of DTM reports; providing shelter kits and other non-food items as needed; and by communicating with communities to facilitate information sharing.

(Source: UN)

On Saturday night (12/10) almost 200 Syrian Kurds started crossing the border into Iraq’s Kurdistan Region (KRI) to escape bombardments in North Eastern Syria. The families crossed unofficial entry points into KRI, through the villages of Masaka and Sahela.

A day after their entry into Iraq, 182 Syrians were brought by local security forces to a processing center near the Sahela border in Duhok, KRI’s northernmost governorate.

IOM deployed Rapid Assessment and Response Teams (RART) in Sahela, to receive the Syrian families and evaluate their fitness to travel further.

Three medical professionals, including one psychologist, were on-site to carry out emergency health assessments. Roughly 30 patients sat for consultations; children were mostly found to be suffering from upper respiratory tract infections, tonsillitis and the flu; while among adults some of the health issues examined by the doctors were post-surgery complications, hyperthyroidism, and asthma.

The medical team also assisted two pregnant women, who were found to be in stable condition.

All patients were examined and given the necessary treatment where available. For cases that could not be treated immediately, follow up care will be organized.

At the processing centre, IOM has also provided food and drinks for the families. All individuals were then transferred by bus to Domiz 1 – a refugee camp in Duhok Governorate.

“IOM Iraq is gravely concerned by the emerging crisis in Northern Syria, that is putting thousands of already vulnerable individuals in harm’s way,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

“In collaboration with UN partners, IOM Iraq will support Syrians as they cross the border, and protect and assist those in need.”

IOM Iraq will continue to monitor arrivals the border. A REMAP study, linked to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) initiative, will be carried out to assess the numbers of Syrians crossing into Iraq through official border points.

IOM Iraq will support the UN response to these inflows by providing transportation that can take Syrian families from the reception facilities to the camps; Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) services; health assessments (including mental health and psychosocial consultations) especially at the border; by monitoring flows for the production of DTM reports; providing shelter kits and other non-food items as needed; and by communicating with communities to facilitate information sharing.

(Source: UN)

The Ministry of Planning and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Iraq Reconstruction and Recovery Trust Fund in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework.

Iraqi Minister of Planning Dr. Nouri Sabah al-Dulaimi signed on behalf of the Government of Iraq. Marta Ruedas, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq and Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, signed on behalf of the United Nations.

The MoU falls in the framework of cooperation, is in line with the Iraqi government’s commitments under the provisions of the Kuwait Conference in 2018, and will help in articulating the international community’s pledges made at that time.

Ms. Ruedas said:

“This Fund is a way to channel the commitments from the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq. We are pleased to continue supporting the Ministry of Planning and the Government of Iraq in the implementation of this agenda as well as the longer-term Sustainable Development Goals”.

The Trust Fund is in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework as defined in the Recovery and Resilience Programme and for the required policy and programme support to the Government’s achievement of its SDGs targets and its Vision 2030.

(Source: UN)

The Ministry of Planning and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Iraq Reconstruction and Recovery Trust Fund in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework.

Iraqi Minister of Planning Dr. Nouri Sabah al-Dulaimi signed on behalf of the Government of Iraq. Marta Ruedas, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq and Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, signed on behalf of the United Nations.

The MoU falls in the framework of cooperation, is in line with the Iraqi government’s commitments under the provisions of the Kuwait Conference in 2018, and will help in articulating the international community’s pledges made at that time.

Ms. Ruedas said:

“This Fund is a way to channel the commitments from the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq. We are pleased to continue supporting the Ministry of Planning and the Government of Iraq in the implementation of this agenda as well as the longer-term Sustainable Development Goals”.

The Trust Fund is in support of the Government’s Recovery and Development Framework as defined in the Recovery and Resilience Programme and for the required policy and programme support to the Government’s achievement of its SDGs targets and its Vision 2030.

(Source: UN)