Siemens working with Iraq on Hydrogen Production

By John Lee.

As part of its efforts to switch to clean and renewable energy, Iraq's Ministry of Oil has said it is working with Siemens to produce hydrogen.

The German company will provide advanced technologies and equipment for the project, and set up workshops to support the initiative.

The first of these workshops was held on Monday.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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How Corruption Erodes Healthcare in Iraq

By Mac Skelton and Abdulameer Mohsin Hussein, for the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

Medicine Under Fire - How Corruption Erodes Healthcare in Iraq

The April and July 2021 hospital fires in Nasiriya and Baghdad left hundreds dead, adding insult to injury for a medical system that had already buckled under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why did these deadly fires transpire?

In the media, journalists highlighted a lengthy series of contributing factors leading to the tragedy, including flimsy and highly flammable construction materials, the explosion of mismanaged oxygen tanks, electrical shorts, and a lack of fire safety equipment.

Underlying these defects, ordinary Iraqis pointed to a deeper cause: pervasive corruption in the healthcare sector. Corruption, they alleged, explained why it was that an oil-rich country had not built and maintained safe and secure health facilities.

This preliminary paper looks to the tragic phenomenon of mass-casualty hospital fires in Iraq's COVID-19 wards to kickstart a larger policy-oriented conversation on the political drivers, key mechanisms, and human costs of corruption in the healthcare sector.

Broadly speaking, the research contends that political parties in control of the healthcare system compromise the safety and efficacy of both public and private hospitals by systematically evading quality controls and maximizing profits from medical supply chains at all costs.

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung)

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Iraq launches COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

The World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, today launched a national COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign covering all Iraq including the Kurdistan Region and targeting over 12 million people with children 12 years old and above.

The campaign which commenced today will last until December 31st 2021, and will certainly give momentum to the vaccine rollout process in Iraq to reach up to 40% vaccination covertage rate among the general population by end of this year.

"COVID 19 continues to be the biggest challenge of our time and we must all unite to overcome this devastating public health threat as no one is safe until we are all safe," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.

"WHO and the Ministry of Health in Iraq raised the challenge to vaccinate the maximum number of people possible to control the COVID19 Pandemic as soon as possible, under the theme of "COVID19 Vaccine is a gateway to a normal life". Vaccination has today come in a new outfit and will be delivered in easy-to-access sites, open for long working hours extending to the evening. There will be a lifesaving dose of immunity against this vicious disease for every Iraqi, no one should be left behind" Dr. Zouiten added.

This new external vaccination setting will witness the opening of more than 100 external mass vaccination sites distributed to the 18 Iraqi governorates based on the demographic situation, health indicators, and capacity of each governorate. The sites will further be supported by more than 225 vaccination and direct registration teams deployed with the required daily supply of vaccine doses.

This new COVID 19 inoculation arrangement will support the health system in Iraq to maintain the routine immunization program which was significantly affected by the designation of the health facilities to the delivery of COVID 19 health care services in 2020-2021.

"The Ministry of Health in Iraq and WHO are happy to announce the launch of a massive COVID 19 vaccination campaign today," said Dr. Riyadh Al Hilfy, Director General of the Public Health Directorate in the Iraqi Ministry of Health. "The campaign will target a vast majority of the vaccine eligible population in Iraq through external vaccination outlets with on-spot registration. Our short-term goal is to vaccinate a minimum of 40% of our people including our children aged 12yrs upwards."

"Vaccines are now available, and we urge our citizens to go get their jabs. Let's stand by each other to overcome the difficulties resulting from this disease and bring life back to normal with our determination and the support of our partners," Dr. Alhilfy added.

The vaccine rollout process in Iraq started in March this year accessing 15.1% of the total population with the first dose and only 9.0% with the two vaccine doses as of 6 November 2021. Committed to WHO global vision of scaling the vaccination coverage in all world's countries to 40% by end of this year, the coverage rates in Iraq have raised the concern of the health authorities and WHO in Iraq and necessitated an urgent action to intensify the vaccination activities in an innovative and accessible to all approach.

"WHO would like to reiterate that we cannot end the pandemic without COVID-19 vaccines. We will stop this pandemic only when the majority of people in Iraq take the vaccine," but vaccines should be complemented by public health and social measures. WHO calls upon citizens to seize the opportunity of direct vaccine administration to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe," explained Dr. Zouiten.

WHO Iraq would like to express its gratitude to the German People and Government for their generous financial contribution which enabled the planning and the implementation of this remarkable event, the first of the kind in the region so far.

(Source: UN)

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Germany supports Critical Assistance to Displaced in Iraq

Germany supports WFP's critical assistance to displaced and refugee families in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a €6 million contribution from the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) to support WFP's monthly food assistance to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees living in Iraq.

WFP monthly food assistance to displaced families and refugees has become more critical with the rise in food prices and the devaluation of the Iraqi currency as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic effects.

This contribution is part of the Germany's multi-year commitment to WFP to ensure no one is left behind.

"We share a common responsibility to support those in need, especially refugees and the displaced, and we value that Iraq and in particular the communities in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah have taken in so many families who had to leave their homes," said Chargé d'Affairs a.i. of the German Embassy in Baghdad Annika Bolten-Drutschmann. ""We consider WFP's cash transfers a flexible means of assistance that also benefits the host community and small businesses through buying locally."

WFP provides most of its monthly assistance to vulnerable families through cash transfers, through practical 'mobile money' solutions - where families receive cash assistance via mobile phone and can also use it electronically at local stores or - in the case of people living in camps - through electronic vouchers that can be redeemed in camp food shops. When such electronic solutions are not possible, for instance in areas where there is no network coverage, WFP provides through its partners direct cash assistance.

In addition, WFP distributes ready-to-eat food parcels for families who have to be quarantined as part of COVID-19 measures. These rations have also been useful in the past months following tragic fires which occurred in camps in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah.

"Germany continues to be a key partner for WFP in Iraq," said WFP Representative in Iraq Ally-Raza Qureshi. "As one of WFP's few partners to make multi-year contributions, Germany's leading example enables WFP to plan its assistance this and next year, to best meet the food requirements of families in need. We thank the German government and people for their support at this critical time."

Alongside ongoing emergency operations, WFP is expanding resilience-building and livelihoods activities across the country, to help conflict-affected families and communities create and sustain work opportunities. These are particularly needed as families continue to return home from camps, or settle in new areas. Germany is also a staunch supporter of these endeavours, through its Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

(Source: UN)

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New Report on Iraqi Health Sector

The report offers a description of the structure of the health sector in Iraq.

The categories and stakeholders that comprised the sector. Mainly the public and the private sector, alongside, international agencies that work in Iraq.

These agencies include the likes of the World Health Organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, UNICEF, the Iraq Health Access Organization, and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Many of which have been in Iraq for decades, offering assistance and partnerships with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Click here to download the full report.

(Source: Kapita, in partnership with GIZ)

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Germany, IOM Strengthen Humanitarian Response in Iraq

Germany, IOM Strengthen Partnership for Evolving Humanitarian Response in Iraq

During the ISIL conflict, an estimated six million Iraqis were displaced.

Thousands of families have returned to their areas of origin since the end of the crisis, but unstable conditions in Iraq have caused a significant shift in the country's humanitarian situation.

As country-wide camp consolidation and closure processes move forward, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are reckoning with the complex experiences of premature return and secondary displacement. Returnees residing in hotspots of severe living conditions and IDPs living in strained camps and informal sites are in urgent need of adapted humanitarian assistance.

As a part of its ongoing support for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq, the Government of Germany will provide additional multi-year humanitarian funding that will better position IOM to adapt and rapidly implement its intervention strategy to address the evolving needs of the affected populations while remaining flexible to respond to sudden onset crises.

The latest grant from the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) supplements an ongoing IOM Iraq project launched in March 2020. In addition to enhancing visibility, this multi-year humanitarian funding allows for longer-term planning and programme continuity. This is crucial, as remaining populations facing protracted displacement are in need of sustained assistance until solutions to their displacement are found.

"This funding from the German Federal Foreign Office is not only generous, it is flexible and will extend over the years to come," said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. "This will enhance IOM's capacity to pursue a holistic and sustained response to displacement that corresponds to the scope of urgent need in Iraq."

The funding will be used to implement a broad range of humanitarian activities, from camp management in formal and informal sites to specialized, community-based protection and mental health and psychosocial support services both in- and out-of-camp. For those living in sub-standard or damaged shelters, funding will provide immediate relief solutions for improved safety, protection and living conditions. Interventions will also provide non-food item assistance and support primary health care centres to ensure accessibility and quality of essential services.

"Germany remains committed to the needs of internally displaced persons in Iraq. The broad range of individual IDP situations requires tailor-made solutions. We want to give partner organisations as much flexibility as possible so they can adapt to changing situations on the ground and live up to their ambition to deliver humanitarian assistance in accordance with priority needs," said Chargé d'affaires Peter Felten (pictured) of the German Embassy in Iraq. "We are very happy to continue our partnership with IOM in this regard."

Continuing support from the Government of Germany enables IOM Iraq to respond to pressing humanitarian needs while also working to determine root causes of and durable solutions to displacement, thereby facilitating the safe relocation or return and reintegration of IDPs into their communities.

(Source: UN)

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Iraq Borrows $360m to Reduce Gas Flaring

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is investing in Basrah Gas Company (BGC) to support one of the largest gas flaring reduction projects in the world, helping to improve energy access, prevent associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and support a more resilient, sustainable energy sector in Iraq.

BGC is an Iraqi joint venture created to treat and process associated gas that would otherwise be flared. The project is expected to increase BGC's processing capacity, thereby avoiding more unnecessary flaring and associated GHG emissions by around 10 million tons per annum. It will support Iraq's transition to a lower carbon path and improve access to a domestic energy source, helping the country meet its growing power needs.

IFC is the lead arranger of the five-year, $360 million loan to BGC.

Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail, Minister of Oil for Iraq, said:

"Signing the loan agreement reinforces the collective efforts to increase investment in associated gas flaring reduction using world-class technologies. It is in line with our objectives of turning flared gas into cleaner valuable energy and reducing the impact of the Green House Gas emissions on the environment.

"This loan opens new horizons for cooperation and collaboration that serve common purposes and interests, reiterating Iraq's commitment to increasing investment in associated gas flaring reduction and to achieving the objectives set by the Paris Agreement."

Malcolm Mayes, BGC Managing Director, said:

"We are delighted to have successfully signed this loan with IFC, the first loan facility of its kind in the energy sector in Iraq-a milestone to be proud of.

"The agreement demonstrates the strength of Iraqi companies and their ability to attract funding and trust from international banks. The intent of this five-year loan is to support BGC's growth project and turn the otherwise wasted flared gas into much needed energy for the country. Our strategy is in alignment with the government of Iraq's vision to power Iraqi homes with electricity and create a more sustainable energy industry."

Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for the Middle East and Africa, said:

"This pioneering project has the potential to deliver significant environmental and economic benefits, including lower GHG emissions and increased fiscal revenues, and will improve energy access and lower costs for Iraqi citizens.

"The project comes after years of hard work and strong cooperation by all parties involved. We hope that it will send a strong signal to other investors and help drive more private investments to tackle climate change and support inclusive growth in Iraq."

IFC's investment comprises a $137.76 million loan for IFC's own account, a $180 million loan in which participations were syndicated to eight international banks (Bank of China, Citi, Deutsche Bank AG, Industrial Commercial Bank of China, Natixis, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Société Générale and Standard Chartered Bank), and a $42.24 million loan through IFC's Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program, a platform that allows institutional investors to participate in IFC's loan portfolio. The loan is without recourse to or guarantees from any of the shareholders.

Iraq is endowed with significant reserves of natural gas, mainly produced as a byproduct of legacy oil extraction. However, in the absence of adequate infrastructure to capture and process it, about 70 percent of all natural gas produced in the country is flared. Capturing associated gas for subsequent use can help Iraq reduce overall emissions.

The project benefits from long-standing engagements of the World Bank Group in Iraq's energy sector. Iraq joined the Global Gas Flaring Reduction initiative in 2011 and committed in 2013 to eliminate all routine natural gas flaring by 2030.

(Sources: IFC, Iraqi Govt)

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Ergil completes Pigging System at Majnoon

By John Lee.

Turkish engineering firm Ergil has completed the design, engineering and fabrication of a pig launcher and pig receiver system at Iraq's Majnoon oil field.

According to Wikipedia: "In pipeline transportation, pigging is the practice of using pipeline inspection gauges, devices generally referred to as pigs or scrapers, to perform various maintenance operations. This is done without stopping the flow of the product in the pipeline. These operations include but are not limited to cleaning and inspecting the pipeline."

Ergil is owned by German company Äager.

(Source: Aager)

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Germany supporting Vulnerable Children in Iraq

UNICEF receives 26 million from Germany to support national systems and ensure vulnerable children in Iraq receive quality basic and social protection services in Iraq

The German Government, through its Development Bank, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), has contributed 26 million Euros to UNICEF in order to help the agency in its ongoing efforts to assist the Government of Iraq in strengthening its systems and improve access to quality basic services and social protection for children and their families.

This latest amount brings the German Government's total contributions to UNICEF Iraq to a total of 159 million Euros since 2015.

Vulnerable children and their families in Iraq are disproportionately affected by the lack of safe water, education, and social protection. The needs of the poorest have become even more acute as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its secondary impacts, such as disruption in schools and health services, and rights violations, as well as rising poverty, all diminish the chance of vulnerable children to realize their basic rights to survive, be protected, and continue learning.

In light of the scale of the pandemic's effect particularly on children and their families, the German Government has reserved 6 million Euros exclusively for measures addressing COVID-19 related activities such as the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC).

"This funding has come in at a critical time, when we should be doing all that we can to limit the effects of the pandemic on all children, especially the most vulnerable. Thanks to our German partner, we are able to scale up our efforts to support the Government of Iraq to strengthen national systems' ability to respond and provide better quality and coordination of the basic services that it provides, public social protection for children and their families, and help to train educators, counsellors and other professionals working with children," explained Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.

For his part, the German Ambassador to Iraq, His Excellency Dr Ole Diehl (pictured), emphasized that the international community can only win the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic by working together.

"Germany continues to support Iraq in its fight against COVID-19. This is why we have launched an extensive global COVID emergency program, under which also a sizeable COVID-19 response window is allocated for Iraq and our contribution assigned to this program respectively. Good health and sanitary infrastructure are paramount to contain the virus. More importantly, every one of us needs to take part in the fight against Corona by wearing masks, keeping up social distancing and observing rules of basic hygiene."

Since the pandemic broke, the number of children and adolescents who risk falling into poverty has doubled, from one out of five children and adolescents to over 2 out of every 5. Children and adolescents, who make-up more than half of the population in the country, are also the most at risk of experiencing poverty, service disruptions in critical basic services like primary health, water sanitation and hygiene, education and increase in rights violations.

"Investing in one's children is the best investment any nation can make. The Iraqi government needs our support to further develop its technical capacities, strengthen its systems, and deliver for its children. We are especially appreciative of the support of our German partner at this critical time when we are working with the Government to enhance its ability and systems to deliver better education, health services, water, sanitation and protection for every boy and girl in Iraq," added Ms. Lasseko.

There are 1.77 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and another 1.5 million who remain displaced and therefore exposed to higher risks of deprivation, violence and exploitation. The project which will be rolled out over 18 months, will target such populations.

The project focuses on long-term sustainability by strengthening national systems and capacities to provide integrated access to safe water, education and health services, protection, and social assistance, with the goal of enabling children to overcome poverty, practice their rights and fulfil their potential.

It will be implemented at the Federal level and in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in partnership with the Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs, the Education, the Directorates of Education at sub-national levels, and national and international Civil Society Organisations.

(Source: UN)

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