1.9m Iraqi Children to be Vaccinated against Polio

More than 1.9 million Iraqi children in high risk governorates to be vaccinated against polio

On Sunday, Iraqi health authorities, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF began a mass polio vaccination campaign targeting more than 1.9 million children under the age of five.

The campaign will be conducted in locations across Iraq, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which, like previous disease outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies has disrupted access to essential health services, including routine immunization. The campaign is urgent because even brief interruptions of vaccination programmes leave cohorts of infants unprotected, making outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, like polio and measles more likely.

"The complexity of ensuring that children in Iraq remain safe from vaccine-preventable diseases while at the same time responding to COVID-19 is enormous, but we must continue to do all that we can to protect children against avoidable suffering and death caused by vaccine-preventable disease. WHO and its partners are working past the COVID-19 challenges by ensuring continuity of vaccination efforts against childhood threats such as polio" said Dr Adham Ismail, WHO Representative for Iraq.

"The Oral polio vaccine will be safely delivered both door to door and at fixed points in health facilities to ensure that we reach all children under the age of five regardless of their previous vaccination status. We want to make sure that no no child is left behind, no matter where they are," added Dr Adham.

WHO supported the development of micro plans to guide vaccination teams day by day, mobilized and trained 862 supervisors and more than 4294 vaccinators to carry out the campaign. In addition, it is also paying all the vaccination costs including transportation and other incentives to ensure that all children are reached.

In order to ensure that the appropriate precautions are taken to maintain COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) during the campaign, UNICEF trained all vaccinators in IPC skills and equipped many of them with personal protective equipment in order to ensure their safety and the safety of the target communities.

In addition, UNICEF donated the entire stock of polio vaccines for the campaign and has provided the equipment needed to keep vaccine doses at the right temperature, thereby ensuring their effectiveness. It also developed educational materials such as informational videos and posters, to raise awareness about the importance of immunization and encourage caregivers to vaccinate children. In addition, UNICEF trained 400 community volunteers to raise awareness, track rumours, and counter misinformation with accurate information about the vaccine and its benefits.

"Along with our partners in government, we have a responsibility to make sure that communities are engaged, aware that vaccines are the most cost-effective and safe way of protecting children against many diseases, and that they are mobilized to participate in vaccine delivery programmes. Every child born has a right to a healthy life," explained Ms Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.

The five-day campaign will target children in 46 districts in sixteen governorates, including Baghdad (Baghdad-Resafa and Baghdad-Karkh), Babylon, Anbar, Dahuk, Erbil, Kerbala, Kirkuk Missan,Muthanna, Thi-Qar, Najaf, Ninewa, Salah Al-Din , Suleymaniya, Wassit and Basra. The locations were selected based on the health risks of children in each, polio surveillance indicators, children's immunisation profiles and existing gaps. Other factors considered included the population numbers, geography and environmental risks.

(Source: UN)

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UN “Gravely Concerned” about IDP Camp Closures

Statement from the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Irena Vojackova-Sollorano (pictured), on IDP camp closures in Iraq:

I am gravely concerned about the thousands of civilians who have been moved from camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq in the last six weeks and have not yet found new homes.

The Government of Iraq has closed or consolidated 11 such camps and reclassified two as informal sites since mid-October, affecting more than 27,000 people. An estimated 78 per cent of those are women and children who were already vulnerable. Their wellbeing is of particular concern in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of winter.

This is not about camp closures. It is about what will happen to those Iraqis, their safety, their wellbeing and their future. Two-thirds of affected people have reached their district of origin, but many are not in their traditional homes, according to United Nations data. About 30 per cent of those returnees do not have safe or dignified housing and remain highly vulnerable.

The other one- third of people affected have been unable to return to their places of origin. Social tensions and insecurity, the presence of unexploded ordnances and explosive remnants of war, and the lack of civil documentation, housing, services, cash assistance and livelihood opportunities remain barriers to their return.

I am also concerned by indications that more Iraqi families could face similar situations if the remaining five camps administered by the Government of Iraq are closed before the end of the year. The United Nations shares the Government's goal of ending the displacement crisis in Iraq but reiterates that the return of internally displaced people needs to be voluntary, safe, dignified, and informed, with conditions in place in advance in their areas of origin to enable reintegration and ensure sustainable solutions.

The United Nations stands by its commitment to support the Government of Iraq in facilitating and achieving longer term durable solutions for all vulnerable displaced and returnees in Iraq, including by supporting social cohesion measures.

Vulnerable displaced populations need more active support to rebuild their lives in dignity and in accordance with the fundamental standards of human rights. They need a suitable environment for a sustainable return and structured support programmes towards durable solutions. It is essential to continue the efforts to build the resilience of communities hosting IDPs as well as those receiving returnees.

Supporting these populations contribute to Iraq's future stability and success. Together with our national and international humanitarian partners, we are closely following the matter, will continue to support and stand ready to provide further assistance when required, in accordance with humanitarian principles.

(Source: UN)

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Tabib Baghdad secures more Funding

By John Lee.

An online platform that connects Iraqi patients to doctors has reportedly raised a six-figure sum in its latest round of fundraising.

According to Startup MGZN, Tabib Baghdad raised the money through the recently-launched Iraqi Angel Investors Network, led by KAPITA and Nass Al Iraq.

It adds that the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) gave a grant of $20,000 towards this round, as part of its support to the Angel Network and the Iraqi startup ecosystem, as part of its "ICT for Youth in Iraq" scheme.

Tabib Baghdad started operations in Baghdad in 2018, and plans to cover the rest of Iraq in the coming year.

More here.

(Source: Startup MGZN)

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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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Germany’s New EUR 10m Contribution to Iraq

New €10m contribution from Germany expands UNDP Iraq's Coronavirus response into 15 governorates

German Government's KfW Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of Iraq, have today signed a EUR 10 million agreement (US$11.75 million) to support Iraq's response to COVID-19.

The contribution was made by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with financing provided through KfW. Over the past five years the German Government has been a continuous supporter of UNDP activities in Iraq and committed so far more than EUR 300 million through KfW Development Bank for this purpose.

The German Government also supports Iraq in its efforts to address the immediate and medium-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and has set up an emergency window under which funds are provided, including this contribution to UNDP.

This contribution allows UNDP to extend its COVID-19 response measures into 15 governorates. It makes Germany the tenth partner to contribute to UNDP's COVID-19 response, taking the total raised to approximately $38.9 million.

Measures under UNDP Iraq's response include increasing the testing capacity of laboratories, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, building isolation units for infected patients and undertaking assessments to drive post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.

"The spread of COVID-19 is still taking its toll on Iraqi communities across the country. Thanks to Germany's generous contribution, we can continue boosting Iraq's health infrastructure by constructing an extra three isolation wards in addition to the 13 that have either been completed or are underway," says Resident Representatives of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

H. E. the German Ambassador, Dr. Ole Diehl, especially emphasizes the multi-faceted approach of UNDP's COVID-19 response measure. "COVID-19 is a catastrophe, not only insofar as it destroys human health and lives. It also causes people to lose their jobs, enterprises to lose their revenue and families to literally lose the food on their table. These possible outcomes of COVID-19 require a strong and differentiated response mirrored in this program. Germany continues to support Iraq in its fight against COVID-19. This is why we have launched an extensive global COVID-19 emergency program, under which also a sizeable COVID-19 response window is allocated for Iraq. This pandemic can only be contained with the collective effort of the international community and Germany will play its part."

"Germany is one of UNDP Iraq's largest contributors, and we are extremely grateful for their strong and continued support, particularly during the pandemic," adds Ms Ali Ahmad.

KfW Development Bank and UNDP enjoy a strong cooperation over the years. "On behalf of the German Government, we are very pleased to further extend our cooperation with UNDP and assist Iraq in its efforts to address the current challenges arising through COVID-19," says Director of KfW Office Iraq, Dr. Anna Janke.

The contribution will be channelled through UNDP Iraq's Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS).

Germany joins Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and USAID as key partners supporting UNDP Iraq's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which supports medical facilities in Anbar, Babil, Basra, Dhi Qar, Diwaniya, Diyala, Duhok, Erbil, Karbala, Kirkuk, Maysan, Muthana, Najaf, Ninewa and Salah Al Din.

(Source: UN)

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COVID-19’s impact on Social Cohesion in Iraq

COVID-19's impact on Social Cohesion in Iraq cannot be ignored in recovery efforts: New report

The impact of COVID-19 on social cohesion in Iraq represents yet another challenge faced by communities across the country and must be addressed to ensure Iraq's full recovery from the pandemic, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The policy paper is the third in a series released by UNDP Iraq on the impact of COVID-19 in Iraq. Building on the first two reports, the Impact of COVID-19 and the Oil Crisis on Iraq's Fragility, and the Impact of COVID-19 on the Iraqi Economy

The Impact of COVID-19 on Social Cohesion in Iraq notes COVID-19's exacerbation of existing and sometimes deeply rooted political, economic, social and security challenges, highlighting its resulting impact on the country's diverse social fabric.

Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad, said:

"Social cohesion is critical to achieving our central objective of leaving no one behind.

"While the Iraqi Government is wholly committed to improving social cohesion in Iraq, the challenges remain significant, with COVID-19 adding to already complex social dynamics in and between communities.

"Scaling-up confidence-building measures, while tackling the pandemic, remains an enormous challenge, and this report makes policy recommendations to help the Government and other stakeholders effectively plan for Iraq's recovery. Strengthening the social contract between citizens and the State should be the baseline for Iraq's recovery, and UNDP Iraq stands ready to support this effort."

Additional thematic policy papers will be released in the coming months focusing on the implications of the pandemic on social protection, environmental sustainability and the socioeconomic fallout on vulnerable households.

UNDP Iraq is grateful to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq for its collaboration on The Impact of COVID-19 on Social Cohesion in Iraq.

Read the paper here.

(Source: UNDP)

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Al-Kadhemi opens new Medical Center in Najaf

By John Lee.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi has opened the new Al-Shifa Medical Center 13 at Al-Kindi Hospital in Najaf.

The new facility is built on an area of two thousand square meters, with capacity of 120 beds, including 48 beds for intensive care.

It has beds for dialysis and an integrated oxygen system, in addition to x-ray and sonar rooms, laboratory and other services.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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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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Iraqi Camp Closures leave 100,000 in Limbo

The ongoing rapid closure of displacement camps in Iraq is rendering homeless more than 100,000 people in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and at the onset of winter.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is extremely concerned about the fate of thousands of displaced families living in camps across the country that are being closed down rapidly, including NRC-managed Hammam Al Alil Camp.

People in camps in Baghdad, Kerbala, Divala, Suleimaniya, Anbar, Kirkuk and Ninewa are being forced out with little notice, and are expected to return to their areas of origin. Many come from neighbourhoods that are still totally destroyed and they also risk being blocked at checkpoints, or even arrested, because of lack of security clearance and perceived affiliation with armed groups.

"Closing camps before residents are willing or able to return to their homes does little to end the displacement crisis. On the contrary, it keeps scores of displaced Iraqis trapped in this vicious cycle of displacement, leaving them more vulnerable than ever, especially in the middle of a raging pandemic," said NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland.

So far, based on instructions by the Iraqi authorities, some 600 households have left Hammam Al Alil Camp -- which is one of the largest displacement camps slated to close by next week.

Ahlam, a 49-year-old woman from Mosul living in Hammam Al Alil, burst into tears upon hearing about her forced eviction from the camp. "This is my home. Why would you force me out of my home? We will become homeless. It feels like a funeral to me." She said her last resort would be to set up her tent somewhere in Mosul. Some camp residents have had to sell their tents simply to cover transport costs to go back to their areas of origin.

Tracking of people who have been forced to leave camps in Baghdad and Kerbala in the past weeks shows that nearly half of them have not been able to return to their areas of origin so far, according to the International Organisation of Migration. Many end up in precarious settings on the edge of towns, in damaged, unsafe apartments or unfinished buildings, lacking basic necessities and health care, and forced into further displacement.

A 47-year-old woman pushed out of a camp last year recounted how she had to move four times before ending up in another camp -- a scenario faced also last week by evicted families who made plans to move to another camp only to be told the second camp is closing down too.

"The most difficult thing when they transport you in cars and you don't know where you are heading, is to know that most of these areas do not want you," the woman said.

NRC calls on the Iraqi government to provide a clear plan for camp closures and share that information with families at least a month ahead so that they can make necessary arrangements. Authorities need to ensure coordination with receiving districts so that returnees are not turned away at checkpoints, as well as involve humanitarian organisations in the planning so that returnees can be helped en route and upon arrival at their destination. Those who are unable to return safely to their homes also need to be provided with resettlement and local integration options.

"Anything short of such measures will expose tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis to continued deprivation, rejection and violence," Jan Egeland added. "We urge the international community to keep supporting the Iraqis forced out of camps, many of whom have no chance of returning home. With the pandemic and onset of winter, it is urgent to scale up emergency support."

(Source: NRC, ReliefWeb)

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Drug Smuggling and Abuse on the Rise in Iraq

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Drug smuggling, abuse on the rise in Iraq

Iraq suffers from the flow of drugs from neighboring countries, especially Iran, through the marshes and other border crossings, and the spread among the youth has become a threat to society.

Click here to read the full story.

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