Iraq, Iran to launch Joint Investment Fund

By John Lee.

Iraq and Iran are to launch a fund to finance joint ventures between the two countries.

In his closing remarks to the Iran-Iraq Economic Conference on Wednesday, Iran's Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian said

"The proposal to establish a joint venture fund to support the private sector of the two countries was approved."

The conference also discussed plans to establish a branch of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iraq.

(Source: Iranian Ministry of Energy)

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Weir to Deliver OPITO-Accredited Quals in Iraq

Weir Oil and Gas Approved to Deliver OPITO - Accredited Qualifications in Iraq

Weir Oil & Gas has successfully achieved accreditation from OPITO, the global skills organization for the energy industry, to provide occupational training qualifications from the Weir Oil & Gas Centre of Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence in Southern Iraq.

Weir Oil & Gas is the first training provider in Iraq to receive approval to deliver OPITO-accredited SCQF Level 4 and 5 occupational training qualifications in Basic Maintenance Practices and Maintenance Practices for Instrument, Control, and Mechanical Operations. The local delivery of these training programs will help ensure the availability of an in-country, technically skilled, knowledgeable and safety-conscious workforce.

Over the past three years, Weir Oil & Gas has delivered more than 15,000 combined internal and external training hours, mostly to Iraqi personnel, encompassing classroom-based learning and on-the-job training.

With a constant presence in Iraq since 2014, Weir Oil & Gas has increased its local content through skills development and the structured training of local nationals, focusing on oil and gas services professionals.

The collaboration with OPITO aligns with Weir Oil & Gas' vision to become a leading provider of oil and gas industry training and skills development in the Middle East, through enhancing the delivery of training to local nationals, and supporting skills development projects in Iraq and Oman for a portfolio of companies that includes major global oil companies.

Ronan Le Gloahec, President of Weir Oil & Gas Eastern Hemisphere, said, "Our partnership with OPITO will allow us to provide unparalleled local content and training for oil and gas personnel in Iraq, creating a solid and necessary foundation for companies operating in the region to flourish."

Richard Roberts, Regional Vice-President, MEA of OPITO, said, "Iraq's success as an oil and gas producer will, in part, be reliant on its ability to build a strong local talent pool through ensuring the availability of vocational technical skills in-country that are commensurate with international benchmarks. Our collaboration with Weir Oil & Gas is an important step forward in ensuring the delivery of accredited training programs in Iraq and the Middle East and will help safeguard the continued development of a competent energy sector workforce."

(Source: Weir)

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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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Iraqi Woman Sets Record, Calls Attention To Iraqi Children

Mais Abousy Sets Record as First Woman to Do Indoor Iron Distance Race, Calls Attention To Iraqi Children

Iraqi-American lawyer, Mais Abousy, set a record on Saturday, November 7, 2020, as the first known woman in the world to complete an indoor Iron Distance Race, using the feat to raise awareness of Iraq's orphans and vulnerable children.

Abousy's 140.6 mile indoor Iron Distance Race was a self-curated race at the St. James sports complex in the Washington, DC, area, featuring the theme "Suffer. Learn. Change."   The race is a precursor to Mais's anticipated 140.6 mile attempt in Iraq 2022.   The November 7th race - 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.3 mile run - lasted 13 hours.

The race featured the US national anthem at the start and the Iraqi national anthem at the finish.  For the last mile of the race, she was joined by the State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Affairs Joey Hood and the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Iraq in Washington DC M. H. Al-Fityan.

Mais was also joined for portions of the race by Iraqi-American brothers, Yaseen Eldadah (below left) who joined the swim and Elias Eldadah (also ICF Youth Liaison, D.C.) for the bike ride (below right) joined by their father, Dr. Zayd Eldadah.

Also joining Mais in the race was Dr. Nizar Hussein (swim), Haidar Al-Kindi (bike), and Zeena Rahman, President of Enabling Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) (run).

Mais Abousy was featured in a Washington, DC WJLA ABC 7 TV news interview and in a pre-race article in the "Washingtonian" magazine where she shared more of her story.    Abousy has previously run several marathons and a triathlon to highlight the cause of Iraq's children.

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) expresses its deepest gratitude to Mais Abousy for being a champion for Iraq's voiceless orphans and vulnerable children.

*    *   *

ICF intervenes with love and hope in the lives of children at risk of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers, and extremists.  ICF provides legal protection, psychosocial services, nutrition, and education to orphans, street kids, and other vulnerable children.  For more information or to donate, email liz@iraqichildren.org or visit  www.iraqichildren.org

(Source: ICF)

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Calls for Expression of Interest: Training on GBV Reporting

Calls for expression of interest: training on GBV reporting during health crises

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Iraq will conduct in collaboration with UNFPA Syria Hub a training session for Arab-speaking journalists in Iraq on GBV reporting during health crises: COVID-19.

This training aims to provide participants with advanced skills in covering gender-based violence in light of the Covid-19 pandemic in Iraq and emphasise the role of the media in highlighting cases by producing good quality reports based on ethical standards.

The programme targets 25 journalists from all Iraqi provinces through the implementation of four online training workshops. Each session lasts one hour twice a week every Monday and Wednesday from 26 November until 10 December through the Zoom.

After the training, each participant will be required to prepare a report/story on gender-based violence in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who can apply?

  1. The journalist should have experience in covering cases of violence
  2. The journalist should be able to speak and write in Arabic
  3. The journalist should present samples of previous journalistic work (links to press materials in the same field are preferred)
  4. The journalist should be committed to cover stories of GBV cases according to the standards delivered during the training
  5. The journalist should have a stable internet connection
  6. The journalist should be able to work full time during training days

How to apply?

FILL OUT THE FORM

Deadline:

Sunday 15 November 2020

(Source: UN)

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Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity

Why you should come to the IBBC Conference in Dubai, entitled 'Opportunity in Adversity'

On 19th November the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is holding its Autumn conference in person at the Address hotel Dubai Marina.

Some would say it's a brave decision, considering COVID, but others are keen to take up the challenge and opportunity to engage, meet, listen to expert business voices of Iraq and overall have proper opportunities for networking.

Not only do we have a good level of members signed up to attend, but also one of the strongest line ups of speakers, ready and willing to address the opportunities for Iraq in 2020.

The backdrop to this conference is not just COVID, but the election of a new American President, rising oil prices, a fundamental change in the way oil and gas companies are globally which will also affect their work in Iraq, a Government willing and able to make significant changes, in the way finance operates, investors can start up and a white paper that will impact a range of activity and on-going digital modernisation.

All these topics will be covered, and we are expecting significant speakers and attendees from our membership and the Ministry of Oil, the Deputy Minister of Electricity, and online from the World Bank, Central Bank payments director and Ministry of Communications, Mastercard and Zain Cash to name a few.

You can hear about one of the biggest changes as the oil and gas companies redefine themselves as Energy companies, and vertically integrate fuel with electricity generation. BP, Shell, Siemens and Ministry of Electricity will address this and other matters on the Energy panel.

On the Finance panel, we are looking at how to operate successfully in the present very challenging financial situation of the country. New proposals by the Government's white paper will also be discussed and how these align with the need of private sector.

Finally, the Tech Forum with the World Bank on the digitisation of Iraq, the progress that is being made with GOI, and to hear from Mastercard and GSMA and Thinkbank on consumer online behaviour and attitudes.

Now is a great opportunity for change and we believe Iraq won't let the opportunity go to waste. Iraq is at a critical inflection point and the Government understands the importance of encouraging the private sector as a vehicle to solving investment, jobs and diversifying the economy at this time, which is why we are expecting a strong attendance from members and speakers alike from sectors crucial to Iraq's future.

As we look to the coming year, we see a Government making good decisions, investing in large projects, understanding the importance of diversifying its economy and also providing work and opportunity to its young population.

Now is the time to turn up, attend and make plans for the future of Iraq, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Please register here:

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/ibbc-autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai-marina

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Time to focus on Girls in Iraq

Their voice, our equal future, time to focus on girls in Iraq

11th October marked the International Day of the Girl Child, a day dedicated to girls' empowerment, fulfilment of girls' rights and solving challenges that they face.

This year, the global theme is "My Voice, Our Equal Future," a reminder to listen to girls , understand the changes they want to see and to ensure that all of them have an equal opportunity for a bright, safe and healthy future.

In Iraq, the challenges experienced by girls and boys are many and complex. Violence against children, including young people is unacceptably high in Iraq, with 80 per cent facing violence at home and in schools. Many girls in Iraq, like millions of girls around the world, suffer from female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual harassment and abuse, and other harmful practices.

Girls across Iraq continue to be particularly affected by increased insecurity, which in turn has imposed restrictions on movement that affects their access to education, protection and jobs. Young girls are keen to make the most of opportunities, have specific interests, identities and experiences and are keen to share accountability in their development, exercise of human rights and ensure their gender-differentiated needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on movement have elevated risks for girls to be violated and abused. The number of gender-based violence cases has increased since the onset of COVID19 pandemic in Iraq according to the Protection Cluster Monitoring in Response to COVID-19 (August 2020)

According to the GBV Information Management System's data of the first two quarters of 2020, 23 per cent of the incidents of violence reported to the service providers were among children and adolescents, of which 6 per cent were aged between 0 and 11 years, and 17 per cent were aged between 12 and 17 years old.

Interviews conducted by the United Nations with families living in displacement camps across Nineveh governorate, affirm that child marriage remains a frequent practice and a coping mechanism for families living in poverty to reduce the financial strain.

Education and learning are some of the best ways to empower girls and protect them against violence, exploitation and social exclusion by providing them with the opportunity to build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. To make education and learning accessible and empowering for girls, it needs to be safe and gender sensitive.

Having zero tolerance to bullying, cyberstalking, sexting and harassment should be a priority for all as part of the national COVID-19 efforts to reimagine school systems and learning, we must address violence against girls of all ages in and around classrooms and on digital learning platforms. Because girls have higher risk than boys to experience violence, verbal and sexual abuse, a multi-sectoral approach is needed to address all risk factors and cases. Youth-friendly, accessible and quality education and learning, health and social services are essential for girls' empowerment and their development.

Ending gender-based violence is not a far-fetched dream; this is a real possibility. All that is needed is for girls to have access to formal education, , skilled, civically engaged, healthy, supported, and protected at home, in institutions and at the community. The alternative is devastating with a lasting negative and damaging impact to the health, education and well-being of Iraqi girls.

We call on the government, civil society organisations, the private sector, faith-based groups and the international community to accelerate their efforts to:

  • Improve equal access to quality primary and secondary education including life-skills
  • Promote access to alternative learning opportunities for out of school adolescents and youth, in the form on life skills and citizenship education, including social and business entrepreneurship for improved learning to work transition;
  • Increase capacity of the health sector to provide adolescents and youth-friendly health services across the country, with focus on girls; Ensure that girls - survivors of GBV access free and quality specialised services anchored in survivor-centred and age-appropriate approaches
  • Mobilise girls, boys, parents and leaders through civic and social engagement to challenge discriminatory gender norms and create real social, economic and civic opportunities for all girls;
  • Draft and enforce legislation, such as the anti-domestic violence law and child law, to protect girls and prosecute those who harm them;
  • Implement the recommendations by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, including to criminalise, forced, temporary and child marriage;
  • Increase availability of child protection services for girls and young women.

Girls can be powerful agents of change, and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life. We must come together and show our commitment by dedicating resources for girls to realise their rights and fulfil their full potential.

(Source: UN)

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Road to Baghdad — a Journey of Hope for Iraqi Children

By Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and around the world, people are taking those first steps in support of Iraq's children.

Throughout October, the Iraqi Children Foundation are taking the Road to Baghdad on a virtual journey of 6,202 miles - the distance between Washington DC and Baghdad.

In this conversation, Hussein Al-alak speaks with Liz McRae about this month long journey and to also encourage you, to go on the road for the children of Iraq.

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Liz McRae, and I am the Executive Director of Iraqi Children Foundation.

Can you tell us more about the Iraqi Children Foundation?

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) intervenes in the lives of orphans and street children who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers and extremists.

The organization was set up ten years ago by Americans who saw the need to help rebuild Iraq after so many years of conflict. More than 800,000 children were orphaned as a result of the Iraq War, and the ISIS occupation displaced another 1.3 million.

Our vision is that all children in Iraq have a voice, and are empowered to reach their full potential. All our programs have this goal in mind. We help vulnerable children through programs like "The Hope Buses"; where we convert used city buses into colorful, child friendly classrooms.

Each bus has two teachers and a social worker, and serves around 50 children with tutoring, nutrition, health care, social services, practical life lessons, community, and fun.

Another program is called "The Street Lawyers"; where a team of lawyers provide legal protection for children who are targeted by criminals and traffickers, abused by employers, or are facing other risks. They also assist children to get their papers so that they can go to school.

Can you explain how the COVID-19 Pandemic is impacting Iraqi children?

Many children in Iraq face incredible hardship every single day, often without access to proper nutrition, education, healthcare, and safety. COVID-19 adds new challenges for these children, and also exacerbates other existing issues.

For children living in poor communities, social distancing is difficult (if not impossible) due to large numbers of people living in close confines, and there may be little or no access to hygiene supplies or PPE, food, work, school, and community members. The bottom line is: COVID-19 makes vulnerable children more vulnerable.

What is the Road to Baghdad and why is ICF doing it?

During the entire month of October, we're forming one big team of supporters from all over the world, to help us achieve our collective goal of traveling the distance between Washington D.C. and Baghdad.

Everyone can participate in any way you wish to "travel" with us - everything from running, walking, cycling, swimming, all the way through to dancing or housework.

Just log your daily activity and you'll help us reach our goal! We're doing this event because it's more important than ever to support Iraqi children - with COVID and other concerns, they are facing extreme vulnerability.

How do people get involved in the Road to Baghdad?

Here's how to join our virtual mission:

  • Click this link here and create your profile on My Virtual Mission!
  • Join the mission for Road to Baghdad - there's a $25 registration fee, which goes to help Iraqi Children Foundation, and everyone will receive a digital certificate at the end of the race.
  • Anyone who travels more than 10 miles during the month of October will also receive an ICF custom running buff (gaiter).
  • Signing up only takes a few minutes, and once you're done, you're ready to go! You can manually enter miles via the My Virtual Mission website, or you can download the app and pair it with your phone, smart watch, Fitbit, or other devices.

Road to Baghdad is a great way to enhance your usual fitness routine, to set yourself a personal challenge, or even to contribute to a great cause while doing nothing differently! Remember, all your normal movement counts! You can go one mile or you can go one thousand miles... everything helps!

Sign up now and get involved - you'll be helping Iraq's most vulnerable children while also completing a personal challenge. Remember you can sign up ANY time throughout the month of October.

Send a message of support to people taking part on the Road to Baghdad by joining the Iraqi Children Foundation on Twitter and Facebook.

If you'd like to contribute towards ICF's work in Iraq please click here.

The post Road to Baghdad -- a Journey of Hope for Iraqi Children first appeared on Iraq Business News.

UNICEF aims to Train 30,000 Healthcare Workers

UNICEF aims to train 30,000 primary health care workers in Iraq in efforts to prevent and control Covid-19 infection

With numbers soaring since early June, as of the end of August Iraq has confirmed 231,177 cases of COVID-19 and 6959 deaths.

To stem the tide against the pandemic, UNICEF is supporting the training of an estimated 30,000 health care providers at the primary care level, with the aim of disseminating key information about COVID-19 infection, prevention and control, with a special focus on preventing infection among health providers.

Iraq is using a cascade approach for this massive exercise, with online training of 132 national officials from the Ministry of Health over four days in July, and over 580 personnel from the Primary Health Care departments at governorate- and district-level last week.

These subnational personnel will proceed to train primary care staff in person in coming weeks, thereby ensuring that their newly acquired knowledge is shared widely with other frontline health workers.

"Frontline health workers are the unsung heroes in Iraq's fight against COVID-19. Day after day, they continue to show up and provide critical services to those most in need, risking their lives," said Paula Bulancea, UNICEF's Deputy Representative in Iraq.

"This training will build on UNICEF's ongoing support to health workers and vulnerable communities in Iraq as we work together and with all of our partners in government, the World Health Organization, and in non-government organizations, to control this deadly virus," Dr. Bulancea added.

The cascade training will cover the needs of health workers providing immunization, maternal and neonatal care and nutrition services. It will also focus on water and sanitation in the primary health care setting in the context of COVID19.

"Simple acts such as washing your hands after seeing every patient, ensuring that you maintain social distancing with caregivers when vaccinating a child, and wearing a mask at all times will go a long way in ensuring that the safety of healthcare workers isn't compromised on the job," remarked Dr. Bulancea.

In addition to training health workers, UNICEF has:

  • Reached over 14 million people with risk communication and awareness in online and off-line awareness raising campaigns.
  • Distributed approximately 11,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) to front line health workers in the most affected governorates.
  • Partnered with the University of Karbala to produce 14,500 bottles of locally made hand sanitizers and 10,000 large bottles of disinfectants to disinfect surfaces, in partnership with the Karbala
  • Directorate of Health. These products were distributed in healthcare centers in Karbala and Baghdad.
  • Launched a satellite TV education channel to support 1.5 million learners in Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

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Iraqi-American Teen Raises Thousands for Iraqi Orphans

Iraqi-American Teenager Raises Thousands in Support for Iraqi Orphans in 100-Mile Bike Ride

Elias Eldadah, an Iraqi-American high school student, raised over $7,500 for Iraqi orphans this month by organizing a 100-mile (161 km) bike ride in the Washington, DC area.

Joining him in the cause were his teammates and friends - Michael LesStrang, Jake Shue, and Aidan Ortiz.  The four riders began at 4am (11am Baghdad time) Sunday morning, August 2, 2020, and finished approximately 8 hours later.

"We are fortunate to live far away from the pain that children no different from us have to endure daily, and we wish to do our small part for them," Elias and his team said in launching the two-week GoFundMe campaign.

The fundraiser caught traction so quickly that its goal was raised multiple times from the original $1,000.  Even as the race ended, donations continued to roll in.  The final total reached $7,650.


Elias (pictured above right) is the Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) Youth Liaison for the Washington, DC area.

* * * * *

The Iraqi Children Foundation intervenes with love and hope in the lives of children at risk of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers, and extremists.  It does so by providing legal protection, psychosocial services, nutrition, and education to orphans, street kids, and other vulnerable children.  For more information, visit www.iraqichildren.org.

(Source: ICF)