Addressing Iraq’s Fragility crucial to Recovery from COVID

Addressing Iraq's fragility crucial to recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

Failure to address Iraq's multi-faceted fragility could lead to an increase in extreme poverty across the country, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.

Impact of the Oil Crisis and Covid-19 on Iraq's Fragility explores the major dimensions of fragility - economic, environmental, political, societal, and security - and their impact on Iraq in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic and resulting oil crisis.

The paper is the first in a series of policy papers that UNDP will issue on the impact of COVID-19 on Iraq. It provides key recommendations to support the Government of Iraq, local development actors and the international community develop strategies that enable Iraq to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.

"In fragile countries, social safety nets are weak and insufficiently address the basics needs of the most vulnerable groups in society. This ultimately results in deeper social inequalities," says Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

"For Iraq, decades of conflict have hampered the country's stability and stunted its prosperity. The onset of COVID-19 and the oil crisis exacerbated existing fragilities in the country.

"The different dimensions of fragility explored in this report emphasise that Iraq's fragility is not a result of one single event; it involves a number of intricate factors that have collectively impacted every aspect of the country's development, and these must be closely considered when charting the path to Iraq's recover from the pandemic.

"Tackling Iraq's fragility by addressing these main drivers is critical to achieving Agenda 2030 and getting Iraq back on a prosperous and tangible development trajectory. We hope this policy paper is a useful tool for partners to shape effective policies for post-COVID-19 recovery in the country," she adds.

The policy paper, which applies a multidimensional concept of fragility based on the methodology developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),  was developed in consultation with UN agencies in Iraq, notably the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

UNDP's upcoming policy papers will cover the themes of: social protection, macro-economic stability, social cohesion, and household vulnerability.

Impact of the Oil Crisis and Covid-19 on Iraq's Fragility is available on the UNDP Iraq website

(Source: UNDP)

Canada Commits Funds to tackle Pandemic in Iraq

Protecting communities from COVID-19: Canada commits funds to tackle growing pandemic in Iraq

The Government of Canada has contributed US$1.85 million (CAD 2.5 million) to support the Government of Iraq's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.

The funds will be directed toward two critical areas of work; $1.85 million will support UNDP Iraq's immediate response to COVID-19, which supports 12 governorates, and includes increasing the testing capacity of laboratories, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, increasing the number of isolation wards, and undertaking assessments to establish post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.

An additional $75,000 will be used to provide local police engaged in Iraq's COVID-19 response with personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, largely focusing on officers in Baghdad, which has seen the highest number of cases in the country.

"The emergence of COVID-19 has presented yet another challenge for Iraq - which is still reeling from the devastating effects of the ISIL conflict, and is now faced with an economic crisis due to the decline in oil prices. This generous contribution from Canada will ensure the health and safety of communities through access to improved health services and infrastructure, and protect those serving local communities in the line of duty," says UNDP Iraq's Resident Representative, Zena Ali Ahmad.

The funds have been repurposed from existing agreements under UNDP Iraq's Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), and the Security Sector Reform/Rule of Law programmes. As one of UNDP Iraq's key partners, Canada has provided approximately $27 million to the two programmes.

(Source: UNDP)

France prioritizes Medical Equipment in Southern Iraq

Battling Coronavirus: France prioritizes critical medical equipment in southern Iraq

The Government of France has committed EUR 300,000 (US$334,448) to support the Government of Iraq's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The funds will be used to purchase ventilators - a life-saving piece of equipment for Coronavirus patients - for Basra Teaching Hospital in southern Iraq.

"The emergence of COVID-19 has exacerbated the many challenges experienced by communities in Basra, who are struggling to access basic infrastructure and services. We are very grateful for this contribution from France which will alleviate the extreme pressure currently placed on under-resourced health facilities in Basra. As the pandemic has unfolded globally, we have seen how important ventilators have been in saving lives," says Resident Respresentive of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

In addition to ventilators and other life-saving equipment provided to the hospital, UNDP Iraq is also building isolation units, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers to stop the spread of the virus, and boosting the testing capacity of labs to increase the detection of cases.

It also supports an online awareness-raising platform, Corona in Iraq which outlines symptoms and risks of COVID-19, dispels rumors about the virus, and tracks symptoms to encourage people to seek medical advice.

"France is fully committed to actively support the Governement of Iraq to meet the needs of the Iraqi population. This medical equipment will contribute to help medical teams in southern Iraq to face with this urgent situation and allow them to save more lives. We welcome all the efforts made by UNDP to coordinate the help of international donors in order to combat the spread of the disease in Iraq", says the Ambassador of France, Bruno Aubert."

In addition to Basra, UNDP Iraq's COVID-19 response package extends to Anbar, Babel, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Dohuk, Karbala, Kirkuk, Missan, Najaf, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din.

With this latest contribution, France has provided US$7.8 million in support to UNDP Iraq since 2015.

(Source: UNDP)

Finland supports Iraq’s fight against COVID-19

The Government of Finland has committed €2 million (US$2.2 million) to support the Government of Iraq's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.

The funds will be used to support UNDP Iraq's COVID-19 response package, which is being implemented under the umbrella of UNDP Iraq's Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), established to repair critical infrastructure and services damaged by ISIL.

Measures to combat the virus under the COVID-19 response package include increasing the testing capacity of laboratories, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, increasing the number of isolation wards, and undertaking assessments to establish post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.

Focusing on the most vulnerable communities in Iraq, activities will be rolled out in hospitals selected by local authorities in the underserved areas of Anbar, Basra, Diyala, Dohuk, Karbala, Kirkuk, Najaf, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din.

UNDP Iraq's Resident Representative, Zena Ali Ahmad, said:

"While the entire country is impacted by the emergence of COVID-19, it's the vulnerable communities - including displaced communities, people living with a disability, women, and the elderly - who will carry most of the burden. We're extremely grateful for Finland's support which will help us target these vulnerable communities."

Finland's Ambassador to Iraq Mr. Vesa Häkkinen (pictured), added:

"Iraq is facing a multitude of challenges as it recovers from a long conflict. Finland wants to support the stability of Iraq and to strengthen its preparedness and response to COVID-19 emergency. UNDP is in the frontline supporting Iraq's national healthcare system in tackling the outbreak."

Finland is one of UNDP Iraq's key partners, providing more than $12.1 million to UNDP Iraq's FFS since 2015.

(Sources: Reliefweb, Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs)

$10m USAID contribution for COVID-19 in Iraq

Timely $10 million USAID contribution protects more communities against COVID-19 outbreak

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed over US$10 million recently to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq, allowing the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to scale-up its response to the pandemic into three additional governorates.

The funds - pledged under UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization for activities implemented in partnership with the Government of Iraq - will be used to rehabilitate healthcare facilities and provide medical equipment and furniture to hospitals in the originally-identified priority locations of Basra, Duhok, Karbala, Kirkuk, Najaf, and Ninewa, as well as three additional areas: Babil, Dhi Qar and Maysan.

Funding will also be used to rehabilitate the East Mosul Medical Fluid Factory - one of the largest in Iraq, and a critical source of medical supplies to government hospitals, primary healthcare centres and pharmacies. The factory was severely damaged in the ISIL conflict.

"The steep rise in COVID-19 cases detected over the past few weeks is gravely concerning and shows that the virus has not yet reached its peak in Iraq," says Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

"USAID's generous contribution comes at exactly the right time, allowing us to target even more communities by expanding our geographical scope to an additional three underserved governorates. As our biggest donor, we're extremely grateful for USAID's continued dedication to putting vulnerable communities first, and leaving no-one behind," she adds.

"The United States is proud to support this work to combat COVID-19 and assist the people of Iraq; this work will directly support citizens throughout the country to get the high-quality treatment they need to fight coronavirus," said Dana Mansuri, USAID Mission Director.

USAID joins Belgium, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden as key partners supporting UNDP Iraq's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Source: UN)

Japan Prioritizes Iraq’s Recovery from COVID-19

Japan prioritizes Iraq's health and recovery from COVID-19 in new contribution

The Government of Japan has committed US$2.26 million to support the Government of Iraq's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.

The funds will be used to purchase critical medical equipment such as ventilators, as well as assist with socio-economic needs and impact assessments to establish post-COVID-19 recovery strategies for Iraq.

The activities fall under UNDP Iraq's overall COVID-19 response plan which is administered through the Funding Facility for Stabilization and also includes increasing the testing capacity of laboratories, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, building isolation units for infected patients and promoting social cohesion among communities.

UNDP Iraq's Resident Representative, Zena Ali Ahmad, said:

"The emergence of COVID-19 has added yet another layer of crisis upon Iraq's already-fragile state, crippling its healthcare system, the economy and people's livelihoods. This is deeply concerning especially for vulnerable communities that inevitably bear the brunt of such shocks.

"We're extremely grateful for Japan's support which is critical to not only ensuring patients receive the necessary medical care quickly and efficiently, but also to help build Iraq's roadmap for long-term recovery post-COVID-19."

The Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, His Excellency Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto stated:

"Given that COVID-19 is raging across the world, it is crucial for the international community to make concerted efforts, and I hope that the Japan's assistance through UNDP will help fight against COVID-19 and address socio-economic impact.

"Under such challenging circumstances, I wish to engage in and strengthen a close cooperation with the new Government of Iraq on a wide range of issues."

Japan is one of UNDP Iraq's key partners, providing more than $86 million since 2014 for stabilization, community security and livelihood activities.

(Source: UNDP)

Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden give $5m to Iraq COVID-19 Response

Belgium, Netherlands and Sweden commit $5 million to tackle COVID-19 outbreak

The governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden have collectively committed US$5 million to support the Government of Iraq's response to the COVID-19 crisis, in partnership with UNDP Iraq.

The funds, which were originally pledged under UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization to help rehabilitate infrastructure damaged by ISIL, are now being urgently redirected to support UNDP Iraq's initial $24 million COVID-19 response package.

Measures to combat the virus under this package include increasing the testing capacity of laboratories, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, increasing the number of isolation wards, and undertaking assessments to establish post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.

Focusing on the most vulnerable communities in Iraq, activities will be rolled out in eight hospitals selected by local authorities in the underserved areas of Anbar, Diyala, Dohuk, Basra, Karbala, Najaf, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din.

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

"Containing the coronavirus outbreak is now the Government of Iraq's number one priority, particularly as infection rates rise, putting more pressure on the Iraqi healthcare system outside the major capitals. We're extremely grateful to Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden for acting swiftly to commit these funds and being so flexible in administering them.

"Due to the strict curfews imposed by the Government of Iraq, we've had no choice but to temporarily halt the implementation of our stabilization activities. However, by capitalizing on the tried-and-tested processes of our successful stabilization work, we will respond to this unprecedented global health crisis with the speed and agility UNDP Iraq is known for.

"Once this pandemic is under control, our stabilization activities will resume. Until then, we will work closely with the Government of Iraq, the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies to curb the crisis as best we can."

UNDP Iraq is currently discussing the remaining $19 million funding gap with other international partners.

Processes have been established to ensure that once funds have been committed, the response measures can be implemented immediately.

(Source: UN)

Ninewa Women Produce Face Masks for COVID-19

Newly trained women in Ninewa produce face masks to combat spread of COVID-19 in Iraq

In January 2020, UNDP and Kurdistan Human Rights Watch (KHRW) collaborated to train sixty women on sewing and tailoring in Ninewa over the course of a ten-day workshop.

At the time, these women could not have foreseen how their newly developed skills would contribute to combatting the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic currently sweeping the globe.

As of 25 March 2020, the World Health Organization has tracked over 400, 000 cases of COVID-19 with over 18, 000 confirmed deaths. The pandemic has affected 197 countries, areas, and territories, including Iraq.

When a pharmaceutical company contracted by the Ninewa Department of Health was tasked with producing five million disposable face masks in response to the spread of COVID-19, thirty of the recently trained women were employed to use their skills to produce the masks.

After briefings on the health standards and nature of the environment required for mask production, the seamstresses began creating thousands of masks daily in controlled conditions.

Working swiftly to produce this vital personal protection equipment despite the curfew in Ninewa Governorate, these skilled women are directly contributing to the mitigation of COVID-19 in Iraq.

Aseel, 45, says:

"We have produced thousands of pieces and the major portion is delivered to the Ninewa Health Department. Some other organizations are also receiving face masks from us and they distribute those free of cost in communities and camps."

 

 

Not only has the sewing and tailoring skills training empowered sixty women with new abilities, it has also instilled within them hope for their futures. Sustainable development projects such as these are at the forefront of UNDP Iraq's priorities.

Nora, 37, says:

"I am working on developing myself in the sewing profession and in the future, I would like to create a workplace for sewing or a small factory."

The organization and facilitation of skills development workshops with Kurdistan Human Rights Watch is part of a project spearheaded by UNDP Iraq under the Social Cohesion Programme, which aims to improve the enabling environment for peace and social cohesion in all areas of Iraq.

(Source: UNDP)

US Provides Additional $100m for Iraq Stabilization

U.S. Government to Provide Additional $100 Million for Iraq Stabilization

US Chargé d’Affaires Joey Hood has announced that the United States Government intends to provide an additional $100 million to help stabilize liberated areas once held by the Islamic State.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide the funds to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  With this $100 million contribution, the U.S. Government will have provided $358 million to stabilization efforts in Iraq since 2015.

The Funding Facility for Stabilization is supported by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and managed in cooperation with the Government of Iraq.

The United States and the GOI are committed to creating the conditions to allow displaced Iraqis to return to their homes and start to rebuild their lives.  Strengthened with new funding, this stabilization program will restore essential services, such as water, electricity, sewage, health, housing, and education.

In his announcement, the Chargé called on Anbar’s elected officials, tribal sheikhs, and residents to protect the project work sites and ‎do their part to re-integrate back into their communities all displaced Iraqis who wished to return home.

(Source: U.S. Embassy Baghdad)

US Provides Additional $100m for Iraq Stabilization

U.S. Government to Provide Additional $100 Million for Iraq Stabilization

US Chargé d’Affaires Joey Hood has announced that the United States Government intends to provide an additional $100 million to help stabilize liberated areas once held by the Islamic State.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide the funds to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  With this $100 million contribution, the U.S. Government will have provided $358 million to stabilization efforts in Iraq since 2015.

The Funding Facility for Stabilization is supported by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and managed in cooperation with the Government of Iraq.

The United States and the GOI are committed to creating the conditions to allow displaced Iraqis to return to their homes and start to rebuild their lives.  Strengthened with new funding, this stabilization program will restore essential services, such as water, electricity, sewage, health, housing, and education.

In his announcement, the Chargé called on Anbar’s elected officials, tribal sheikhs, and residents to protect the project work sites and ‎do their part to re-integrate back into their communities all displaced Iraqis who wished to return home.

(Source: U.S. Embassy Baghdad)