The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed an additional contribution of EUR 600,000 (approximately USD 670,000) from the Government of France dedicated to explosive hazard management activities that aim at enabling returns in retaken areas of Iraq.

The presence of explosive hazards, including improvised explosive devices in areas retaken from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Daesh, will continue to impede security and stability efforts until they are cleared and rendered safe.

Explosive hazards are not only blocking reconstruction efforts in retaken areas but also deterring people from returning home, particularly in areas affected by intense or prolonged military action. More than 1.4 million civilians are still displaced in Iraq due to the recent conflict and unsafe conditions to allow their return.

The Government of Iraq maintains explosive hazard management capacities within a number of government entities and established mine action authorities, though the demand for assistance exceeds the resources available.

With this additional contribution from the Government of France, UNMAS will further develop a nationally-led response to the threat of explosive hazards, including the provision of explosive hazard management in areas prioritized for stabilization and humanitarian response, technical advice to national and regional authorities as well as risk education.

All projects implemented by UNMAS Iraq are gender mainstreamed and promote gender equality. Among other measures, the programme introduced in 2019 mixed search and clearance teams in Sinjar. This initiative is a step closer to empowering women in mine action and is facilitated by the government of France.

Commenting on the contribution, the French Ambassador to Iraq, Bruno Aubert (pictured), said:

“France considers the clearance of retaken areas as a priority to ensure that the right conditions are in place for displaced persons to return home. We want to renew our commitment to the Iraqi population regarding this essential matter and support the excellent work of UNMAS in Iraq.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, said:

“France is supporting explosive hazard management activities conducted by UNMAS Iraq for the second year. Clearance is still a critical step before any rehabilitation work can take place, and enables the safe, dignified and voluntary return of displaced communities. Such outcomes are only possible thanks to the generous contributions of donor countries and UNMAS Iraq is very grateful for the support provided by the Government of France.”

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The CEO of Germany’s Siemens has said that US President Donald Trump would support his company’s role in reconstruction projects in countries like Iraq.

Joe Kaeser (pictured) made the comment to CNBC at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

Following a hotly-contested competition in 2018, it was agreed that Siemens and rival GE would share the work to upgrade Iraq’s electricity system, with GE supplying 14 gigawatts (GW), and Siemens 11 GW.

Siemens employs around 60,000 workers in the US.

(Source: CNBC)

Iraqi government’s finance schemes to support SMEs and business innovation

To support small and medium private-sector projects, the Iraqi government, through the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) and with the participation of a number of private and state-owned banks, has made available several types of loans.

The loans are available to all Iraqis.

According to a statement from the Iraqi Government, one of the more innovative finance schemes is the Central Bank’s “1 Trillion Dinars Initiative” which is dedicated to supporting small and medium enterprises, as part of the wider Iraqi government strategy to boost economic growth, create new job opportunities, and the production of local goods and services.

(Source: Iraqi Government)

By John Lee.

Florida-based Scientia Global Inc. has been awarded a $12,149,039 firm-fixed-price Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) contract to procure combat effective Digital Mobile Radio Tier III equipment, development, deployment, training and support services.

One bid was solicited via the internet with one bid received.

Work will be performed in Erbil, Iraq; and Melbourne, Florida, with an estimated completion date of April 29, 2022.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

By John Lee.

Florida-based Scientia Global Inc. has been awarded a $12,149,039 firm-fixed-price Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) contract to procure combat effective Digital Mobile Radio Tier III equipment, development, deployment, training and support services.

One bid was solicited via the internet with one bid received.

Work will be performed in Erbil, Iraq; and Melbourne, Florida, with an estimated completion date of April 29, 2022.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

By John Lee.

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) will support six Iraqi universities to develop climate-smart agriculture and efficient water management in Iraq.

Together with the Institute for Water Education (IHE) in Delft and ICRA Global, Wageningen researchers will train academic staff and develop knowledge transfer facilities.

Iraq is one of the focus countries of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For that reason, the Ministry asked WUR to explore the opportunities for cooperation in Iraq in 2018. Last year, an high-level Iraqi delegation visited Wageningen to discuss the collaboration. The two-year project will address several issues.

Teaching styles

First, the Dutch participants will try to modernize the outdated teaching styles at the Iraqi universities by incorporating group work and practical work in their curriculum.

Secondly, the project wants to organize joint research programs at the six universities. Each of these universities will send a scientist to Wageningen to write a joint research article about water management and climate-smart agriculture in Iraq.

The participants may also develop massive open online courses (mooc’s) to implement knowledge transfer to other universities and development partners.

Salinity problems

Iraq is recovering from the war against IS. Some universities were damaged, some others face a challenge to collaborate with farmers to combat water shortage or salinity problems in agriculture. For security reasons, the training will be held in The Netherlands and project partners will meet in the safe Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Karrar Mahdi, an Iraqi scientist at the Soil Physics and Land Use Planning group in Wageningen, will coordinate the project. The project has received a budget of 1,3 million euros. One-third of that budget will be spent at WUR to give scientific and educational assistance.

(Source: WUR)

By John Lee.

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) will support six Iraqi universities to develop climate-smart agriculture and efficient water management in Iraq.

Together with the Institute for Water Education (IHE) in Delft and ICRA Global, Wageningen researchers will train academic staff and develop knowledge transfer facilities.

Iraq is one of the focus countries of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For that reason, the Ministry asked WUR to explore the opportunities for cooperation in Iraq in 2018. Last year, an high-level Iraqi delegation visited Wageningen to discuss the collaboration. The two-year project will address several issues.

Teaching styles

First, the Dutch participants will try to modernize the outdated teaching styles at the Iraqi universities by incorporating group work and practical work in their curriculum.

Secondly, the project wants to organize joint research programs at the six universities. Each of these universities will send a scientist to Wageningen to write a joint research article about water management and climate-smart agriculture in Iraq.

The participants may also develop massive open online courses (mooc’s) to implement knowledge transfer to other universities and development partners.

Salinity problems

Iraq is recovering from the war against IS. Some universities were damaged, some others face a challenge to collaborate with farmers to combat water shortage or salinity problems in agriculture. For security reasons, the training will be held in The Netherlands and project partners will meet in the safe Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Karrar Mahdi, an Iraqi scientist at the Soil Physics and Land Use Planning group in Wageningen, will coordinate the project. The project has received a budget of 1,3 million euros. One-third of that budget will be spent at WUR to give scientific and educational assistance.

(Source: WUR)

By John Lee.

Transparency International has said that Iraq’s ranking has risen slightly in its global Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

From a total of 180 countries, Iraq came in at number 162; last year’s position was 168 out of 180 countries.

This result puts it on equal ranking with Chad and Cambodia.

Libya was ranked in 168th place, with Iran in 146th.

New Zealand beat Denmark to first place, with Somalia in last place.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.

More here.

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

US Syria envoy: Any talks on troop withdrawal from Iraq must include all aid

US-led international operations in Iraq against the so-called Islamic State (IS) have been put on pause, as some 5,000 US forces in Iraq are primarily focused on protecting themselves in the wake of escalating violence between the US military and Iranian-backed groups that culminated in the Jan. 3 US drone strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader at Baghdad airport, a top US envoy said today.

But any discussions with the Iraqi government about a possible future withdrawal of US forces in Iraq would need to be broadened to encompass the entire scope of US-Iraq relations, including diplomatic and financial support, said James Jeffrey, the special envoy to the global coalition to defeat IS.

Click here to read the full story.