First National Conference to Address Early Marriage in Iraq

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Council of Ministers Secretariat (COMSEC), in partnership with the Women Empowerment Department (WED), and support from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Canada, organised a two-day conference to address early marriage in Iraq.

The conference, which took place on 11-12 June, recognised the alarming situation with early marriage which has increased from %21.7 to %25.5 for the past ten years in Iraq.

The event brought together government entities, local authorities, religious and tribal leaders, civil society organisations, young people, academia, and representatives of the international and donor community to discuss the root causes of early marriage, its impact and solutions to address it.

Representatives of the government of Iraq and the government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, ambassadors, tribal and religious leaders, academia and experts shared profound evidence on the devastating consequences of early marriage on the socio-economic progress, psychological and physical health of young girls and boys, families, communities and society at large.

UNFPA Representative of Iraq, Dr Rita Columbia, said:

"Tribal communities and young people affected by early marriage have asked us to raise our voice and advocate more for women and girls' rights and empowerment and take a step forward in addressing early marriage in Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region. This event shows the criticality of reducing early marriage to fulfill the rights of girls and women, and accelerate achievement of SDGs in Iraq."

The conference participants discussed and elaborated recommendations that will be taken by the Women Empowerment Directorate under the leadership of the Secretary-General of the COMSEC to support the local authorities to reduce and prevent early marriage in Iraq.

The Early Marriage is #NotNormal also includes a social media campaign and a partnership with Rakuten's Viber to promote the end of early marriage.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

(Sources: Relief Web, UN)

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5K Run to help Iraq’s most Vulnerable Children

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

Global 5K run aims to help Iraq's most vulnerable children

Liz McRae is the Executive Director of the Iraqi Children Foundation and in this interview, Hussein Al-alak speaks with Liz McRae about the work of the ICF, along with finding out more about their upcoming 'In Their Shoes' global 5K run, on May 21st, 2022.

Who are 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"; 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"; a team of lawyers who 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.

You were recently in Iraq for the ICF, can you tell us more about this?

It was a privilege to travel to Iraq this past month, to visit our programs and meet with our partners. It is so important to experience our programs first hand. During this trip, I visited our Hope Buses and Street Lawyers in Baghdad, and our Center for Girls in Mosul.

Something that stood out to me when visiting our projects was how happy and comfortable the children are when they are at the Hope Bus or our Girls Center. The staff are so kind and caring, and the children are all looking healthy and content. The hardest thing to see was the number of children waiting outside the Hope Buses and peering inside, wishing that they could join in the fun and learning.

Will you tell us more about the In Their Shoes 5K?

Our "In Their Shoes" 5K is a fun run which we hold in Washington D.C. each year. It is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to get together and stand in solidarity with the children of Iraq. This year is our 10th Anniversary event, so we hope that many people can join us. It's a fun family event with face painting, juggling, and snacks. During COVID, we started providing a virtual option for our race as well, so folks can join us from anywhere in the world.

How can people across the United Kingdom get involved?

We hope lots of people from the UK can join us this year - we want to send a message to the world that Iraqi children matter, and that we stand in solidarity with them. Signing up for the race is the best way you can help ICF and these kids - we need help to provide support to so many at-risk children in Iraq.

You can sign up and register as a virtual participant, and we will send you a finishers medal.

The post 5K Run to help Iraq's most Vulnerable Children first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Improving the Lives of 5 Million Children in Iraq

UNICEF and Zain Iraq launch partnership to improve the lives of more than 5 million children in Iraq

UNICEF and Zain signed a partnership on Tuesday based on their shared values to support the rights of children in Iraq by adopting joint work plans on several child related areas, including education, health and nutrition, social protection, water and sanitation and youth engagement for the coming 3 years.

Under the partnership, UNICEF will join forces with Zain to leverage the leading telecom operator's strong network and world-class digital services to reach out to young people and children in Iraq with critical information and hear their views through surveys which will enrich UNICEF programs.

"We welcome this partnership with Zain Iraq, which will enhance our work in Iraq and allow us to reach more communities, especially in hard-to-reach areas. This is one step forward in strengthening our strategic relationship with Zain to improve the lives of children and young people in Iraq", said Sheema SenGupta, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

Ali Al-Zahid, CEO, Zain Iraq, said: "We are pleased to announce this partnership with UNICEF, as it represents an extension of our mutual initiatives and efforts that aim to develop the living standards of Iraqi children and the local community. We place corporate social responsibility on top of our priorities and remain keen to employ our advanced technologies and services for the wellbeing of Iraqis, hand in hand with strategic partners as UNICEF".

The partnership will allow over 5 million children under 5 years, and 2 million women to be reached by 2022 through promoting maternal, newborn and child health digital initiatives.

Activities also include reaching 20 million people with messages on COVID-19 preventive measures and vaccination.

The new partnership will also provide at least 1,000 young person in Iraq with opportunities to reach their full potential through learning and engagement opportunities.

Overall, Zain Iraq and UNICEF Iraq will work collaboratively to support the rights of children in Iraq by jointly supporting projects on education, risk communication and community engagement, health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, adolescent development and participation, child protection and social inclusion and policy.

The partnership will raise awareness and influence policy agendas for multiple audiences, including civil society, governments, business networks and the general public. It will also be executed through Zain's leadership and impact in marketing and communication channels, innovation in communications products and services, and build on UNICEF 's expertise in programming for children and young people.

(Source: UN)

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Results of Iraq Women Integrated Social and Health Survey

Ministry of Planning, UNFPA launch results of the second Iraq Women Integrated Social and Health Survey

The Ministry of Planning, the Central Statistical Organization and UNFPA have launched the results of the second Iraq Women Integrated Social and Health (IWISH) survey, conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning at the Kurdistan Regional Government - Kurdistan Region Statistics Office and with funding from Sweden.

The survey addresses women issues throughout all ages and covers various sectors such as women empowerment, health, reproductive health, violence against women and other relevant social and health dimensions to establish a comprehensive database.

It offers integrated data that identifies the progress made and the gaps in the economic, social, and health situation of women in Iraq in comparison to the results of IWISH I, conducted ten years ago.

Speaking at the event, Dr Maher Johan, Deputy Minister of Planning, emphasised the importance of data and statistics in programming and policy development, reiteration the Ministry's determination to conduct the Population & Housing Census before the end of 2022:

"Evidence-based policies are the only way for us to achieve our commitments to the International Conference on Population & Development in Nairobi and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals".

Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, commented on the survey, saying:

"UNFPA will continue to provide technical assistance in collecting, analysing and using reliable population data to ensure girls and women's rights and needs are a priority for the Government of Iraq. The findings will enable the development of people-centred policies enabling women to have equal opportunities and exercise their reproductive rights".

Highlights of the IWISH results can be found through this link and presentation in Arabic.

(Source: UN)

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A Christmas Gift for Iraqi Children

A message from the Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF):

Dear friends of Iraqi children,

Need a holiday gift idea for family, friends, employees? Need to increase your year-end tax-deductible donations? We can help!

Make a gift in honor of someone special, and we will send you our two beautiful digital ICF Christmas cards, which you can share by email, or you can print out at home.

These cards are a special token for your gift, designed specially for ICF this year. Read more about our Christmas cards below, and please consider making a year-end contribution here:

Iraqi Children Foundation Special Christmas Cards for 2021:

The post A Christmas Gift for Iraqi Children first appeared on Iraq Business News.

UniHouse to run Talented Iraqi Program for Eni

By John Lee.

Italian energy company Eni S.p.A has signed an agreement with UniHouse to execute the Talented Iraqi Program.

Under the scheme, high-caliber, talented Iraqi students will be placed in the UK to study for Bachelor of Medicine degrees.

UniHouse will provide a full range of services, including preparation, exams, orientation, and in-country academic support and consultancy to Eni for the successful execution of the project.

Since 2010, Eni has been part of the consortium developing the Zubair Reservoir in Southern Iraq.

(Source: UniHouse)

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Make a Difference for Iraqi Kids Today!

Dear ICF friends,

FIVE DAYS TO GO!

Our annual "In Their Shoes" 5K race weekend in Washington DC draws dignitaries, diplomats, veterans and business-people, families, and the media. This year we are going GLOBAL!

Run or walk from anywhere in the world, this September 18th. Create a team or set a personal challenge, and help us raise urgently-needed funds for Iraq's vulnerable children. You'll receive a limited edition ICF running gaiter (buff) and a digital certificate. So far, we have participants in 38 cities - will you help us make it 50??

Get ready. Join Us! Sign up now or forward this email to friends and family:

How it works:

  1. Sign up online via the RunSignup platform (link via button above), and create a fundraising page if desired.
  2. Run or walk on September 18th from anywhere in the world.
  3. Finishers receive a digital certificate and a custom ICF running buff (neck gaiter).

Share the registration list: https://runsignup.com/Race/DC/WashingtonDC/2021GLOBALINTHEIRSHOES5K

The symbolism of the ICF design is very special: sunshine symbolizing hope, growth reflected in the date palm leaf and fruit of Iraq, and water marking the Euphrates and Tigris rivers which represent the historic position of Iraq as the seat of civilization. Collect this year's limited edition orange gaiter!

The post Make a Difference for Iraqi Kids Today! first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Global Solidarity Needed for Iraq’s Vulnerable Children

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

In this conversation with Liz McRae, Hussein Al-alak hears about the efforts which the Iraqi Children Foundation have been undertaking, during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Liz McRae is the Executive Director of the Iraqi Children Foundation.

Can you tell us about the Iraqi Children Foundation and why it was founded?

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"; 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"; a team of lawyers who 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.

The ICF supports children who are vulnerable. Can you describe some of these vulnerabilities?

There are many vulnerable children in Iraq. In particular, we work with children who are orphaned (meaning, they have lost one or both parents), and children who are working to support their families.

Many children in Iraq are also vulnerable due to displacement caused by conflict. These children are vulnerable to abuse and can be targeted by criminals and extremists. More recently, COVID-19 adds an extra challenge for children and families, as it has done for people all over the world.

The ICF also supports children who are at risk of exploitation. As Iraq experiences many challenges, how does exploitation manifest itself?

For families experiencing poverty, displacement, or a lack of access to job opportunities, the possibility of exploitation is increased. Many children in Iraq have to work to support their families, especially when one or both parents have died. These children can be exploited by employers, and are easy targets for criminals and extremist organizations.

The risk of exploitation is also heightened by the fact that children working are often not attending school on a regular basis. Without access to education, it becomes harder to stay away from potentially exploitative situations.

Many countries have been under lockdown due to the Covid Pandemic, what have the ICF been doing during this time?

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 the 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.

During this critical time, we are doing our best to help keep children as safe and healthy as possible. Teams have been distributing food and hygiene supplies to vulnerable children and families in multiple cities, and our Hope Bus staff have paid home visits to children from the Hope Buses to show them how to use PPE and practice good hygiene so that they can stay safe during COVID-19.

We continue to work with the teams on the ground in Iraq, who are doing their best to work safely and always with the best interests of the children in mind.

How can people within the international community, support the Iraqi Children Foundation and their work in Iraq? 

You can do a lot from home; you are not powerless to help the vulnerable children in Iraq. Here are some things you can do to help:

Follow and spread the word - follow us on social media to learn more about the challenges Iraqi Children are facing, to hear ICF news and progress, and share to spread the word so we can make a larger impact (Facebook/LinkedIn: Iraqi Children Foundation, Instagram/Twitter: @IraqiChildren)

Give what you can - every dollar matters, especially now. Donate any amount at our Global Giving page to help. Also, new monthly donors get a 100% match on their first month of giving.

Fundraise - help us fundraise; start your own mini-campaign using Global Giving or Facebook - it only takes 5 minutes! Email liz@iraqichildren.org to find out more, and we can help you set it up.

The post Global Solidarity Needed for Iraq's Vulnerable Children first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Dr. Rafid Aziz Joins Board of Iraqi Children Foundation

Dr. Rafid Aziz Joins Board of Directors of Iraqi Children Foundation

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Rafid Aziz (pictured), President of the United Iraqi Medical Association in the United Kingdom, to join the ICF Board of Directors.

Grant Felgenhauer, ICF Board Chairman, said:

"ICF has pledged in 2021 to expand services to meet the medical and disability needs of Iraqi orphans and vulnerable children. Having a medical professional of such distinction on our Board will help equip ICF to pursue that commitment. We are thrilled to have Dr. Aziz join our team."

ICF has provided occasional medical support to children in Iraq in recent years, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, and clinical services. But the charity hopes to develop a more robust medical program. Dr. Aziz will be leading ICF's efforts to expand outreach and support to Iraqi orphans and vulnerable children with medical and disability needs.

Dr. Aziz, who went to medical school in Baghdad, Iraq, serves as President of the United Iraqi Medical Association (UIMA) for the UK and Ireland, an independent network that was established to look after the professional and social needs of the Iraqi healthcare community in the UK, as well as to support medical/nursing education and effective healthcare policy in Iraq. He is also the Medical Director, Integrated Urgent Care Clinical Lead, and a trainer at Hertz Urgent Care in the UK.

(Source: ICF)

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