COVID-19 and Environmental Sustainability in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Environmental Sustainability in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Environmental Sustainability in Iraq is the fifth in a series released by UNDP on the impact of COVID-19 in Iraq.

It emphasizes how the pandemic has exacerbated Iraq's environmental fragility, which was already affected by legacies of conflict, lack of significant public sector and governance reforms, loss of development gains and illicit activity such as illegal hunting, fishing and logging, amongst other factors.

It outlines how the virus has led to some negative environmental impacts, such as increased quantities of medical waste, but also positive impacts, such as temporary improvements in air quality and ecosystems. It also proposes how key drivers of fragility can be addressed over time.

Click here to read the full report.

(Source: UN)

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Iraq to buy Chinese COVID Vaccine

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Cabinet held its weekly meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister praised the efforts of state institutions and agencies to ensure the implementation of curfew regulations, and thanked all citizens for adhering to preventative health measures.

Following discussions, the Cabinet agreed to authorise the Ministry of Health to purchase the coronavirus vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Coronavirus: Iran to Shut Border with Iraq

Iran's minister of interior unveiled plans to shut the border with Iraq in the southwestern province of Khuzestan in order to contain a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said the Coronavirus Fight National Headquarters has made new decisions to control the coronavirus in Khuzestan province, where the number of COVID-19 cases has risen in recent days.

He said the border crossings with Iraq are going to be closed and travels between cities in the Khuzestan province will be prohibited.

He also expressed hope that cooperation from people would help control the situation in Khuzestan ahead of the new Iranian year's holidays.

Officials have warned that the coronavirus has begun to spread rapidly in Khuzestan, stressing the need for new travel bans and strict control at the border.

Several cities in the southwestern Iranian province have been categorized as red zones with high risk of infection.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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Iraq allocates additional resources for Labs, Medicines

By John Lee.

The Cabinet held its weekly meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

It received a briefing from the Minister of Health on the latest Covid-19 related developments and on the ongoing national efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

Following discussions, the Cabinet agreed to:

  • Authorise the Ministry of Health to sign special agreements with the manufacturers of the Coronavirus vaccines
  • Allocate 100 million US dollars to fund the purchase of laboratories, medicines (other than vaccines) and supplies related to Covid-19

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Iraq Tightens COVID Restrictions

The Higher Committee for Health and National Safety held a meeting on Saturday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

The Committee reviewed the latest Covid-19 related developments and agreed several measures to address the recent rise in the number of cases in Iraq.

The measures include:

  • Imposing a total curfew on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each week from 18/2/2021, and a partial curfew between 8 PM and 5 AM on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until 8/3/2021.

The curfew excludes employees of the Ministry of Health, the security forces and government departments providing essential services. It also excludes grocery, fruit and vegetable stores, bakeries and pharmacies which will be allowed to open from 5 AM to 7 PM when the total curfew is in force, media personnel who have a prior authorizsation from the Minister of Health, and individuals who need to travel between Iraqi provinces for urgent humanitarian reasons.

The Committee also decided to:

  • Urge citizens to wear a face mask in public places, including when travelling by taxis and buses, maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres at all times and impose a fine of 25,000 Iraqi dinars for violating any of these rules
  • Close down any private medical clinic that fails to treat Coronavirus patients according to approved protocols
  • Order the closure of all beauty centres from 18/2/2021 for a period of two weeks
  • Order the closure of entertainment centres, parks, cinemas, sport halls, gyms and swimming pools from 18/2/2021 for a period of two weeks
  • Ban the conduct of public funeral services and mourning rites, and impose a fine of 5 million Iraqi dinars for any violation of these rules
  • Order the closure of all mosques and other places of worship until further notice
  • Ban wedding ceremonies at event halls from 18/2/2021 until further notice, and impose a fine of 5 million Iraqi dinars for any violation
  • Order the closure of malls and cafes from 18/2/2021  for a period of two weeks
  • Order the closure of  restaurants, and permit delivery services only, from 18/2/2021 for a period of two weeks, provided that restaurants and their workers adhere to preventative health measures.  Violators will be fined 5 million Iraqi dinars
  • Order all public and private educational institutions and schools to use online and distant learning modules from 18/2/2021 until 4/3/2021, with the exception of final stage students at medical colleges
  • Impose a ban on group travel for tourism purposes to all countries until further notice
  • Direct the Ministry of Health to conduct PCR covid-19 tests at Iraq's airports and other border-crossings for all arriving passengers who will be responsible for paying for the cost of the test
  • Permit the entry of goods via Iraq's  land, sea, and air border crossings
  • Reduce the working hours at government departments and institutions by 50% except for the Ministry of Health
  • Direct the Ministry of Interior, the National Security Agency, Joint Operations Command and Baghdad Operations Command to provide the necessary support to health teams as they monitor the implementation of these measures

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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New COVID-19 Isolation Unit at Soran Hospital

Ministry of Health Kurdistan, UNFPA open COVID-19 isolation unit at Soran maternity hospital

The Ministry of Health of the Kurdistan Regional Government through the Directorate of Health in Erbil, with support from UNFPA opened a COVID-19 isolation unit at the Soran Maternity hospital in Erbil on 3 February 2021.

The isolation unit has the capacity to treat up to six women at once. It was equipped with medical supplies, Personal Protective Equipment, six examination beds and two delivery beds worth US$ 100,000.

The facility that provides daily around-the clock care, is fully equipped by UNFPA and the Soran hospital administration. The staff are also provided with PPEs and medical supplies and have been trained on national guidelines on management of pregnancy and child birth during COVID19.

In addition to the isolation unit at Soran maternity hospital, UNFPA, with funding from the Swedish Government, supported the establishment of isolation units for COVID-19 at maternity hospitals in Zakho, Sulaymaniyah and Halabja.

UNFPA Deputy Representative, Mr. Himyar Abdulmoghni spoke on the occasion and said:

"All childbirths should be safe at all times and no woman should be denied quality reproductive health services under any circumstances, including crises and pandemics. We are working with the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan Region to ensure quality services to all pregnant women and safe deliveries despite COVID-19."

Dr Mahabad Dilawar, the Head of Soran Maternity Hospital, thanked UNFPA for the efforts in building the isolation unit saying:

"We are saving time and cost for pregnant women who had to travel long distances to deliver their babies. Through this isolation unit, we serve quality services to pregnant women with COVID-19."

UNFPA supports the Kurdistan Regional Government to strengthen the health system's capacity, provide essential supplies, improve access to sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence services, and promote risk communication and community engagement.

(Source: UN)

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WFP, World Bank partner on Socio-Economic Research in Iraq

WFP and the World Bank partner on socio-economic research in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank are partnering on gathering key data on the impacts of COVID-19 on households, including people who are displaced, in camps, and those who have returned to their areas, as well as host communities.

The surveys and analysis use WFP's mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) system; going beyond food insecurity and regularly collecting vital information on labor markets, access to health services and child education, providing up-to-date snapshots of people's socio-economic status on the ground during the pandemic.

Beside collaborating on the design of the study, the World Bank have contributed financially to sustain the data collection.

"Iraq's multifaceted crisis has severely impacted the livelihoods of the Iraqi people," said World Bank Iraq Representative Ramzi Neman. "The continuation of this study will provide a better understanding of the socio-economic impact of the crisis on the living conditions of households and thus better inform social protection programs aimed at bringing immediate relief to the most vulnerable."

With ongoing economic pressures and the resulting devaluation of the Iraqi currency, prices of some essential food items have risen, and families are further impacted. The research is being used for multiple purposes and provide the government, humanitarian and development communities with information to allow for evidence-based decisions on their pandemic response and support for the most vulnerable families. Additionally, the study supports a sustainable system to help monitor socio-economic changes and household needs.

Once analyzed, the data and findings will also form the basis of key bulletins and reports, such as the ongoing series published by WFP and the World Bank in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"WFP thanks the World Bank for its generous contribution towards this important research partnership, which is supporting informed planning and decision-making by key actors in Iraq," said WFP Iraq Representative Abdirahman Meygag. "Knowing more means being able to do more and do it right. Together our work can help vulnerable families in the most effective way possible."

WFP and the World Bank both continue to work with the government on social protection efforts as well as the design of major reforms in the sector, to best meet families' needs now and in the long-term.

(Source: UN)

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Iraq “makes major progress” in Closing IDP Camps

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

Iraq makes major progress in closing camps for the displaced

After six years of displacement, Iraq has closed around 62% of its remaining camps for internally displaced persons over the past six months and is planning to close all of them this year.

Click here to read the full story.

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