COVAX gives Iraq 2.9m Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

Over 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Iraq this month, bringing the total vaccines procured for this country through the COVAX Facility to over 6 million doses.

Vaccination rates in Iraq have recently been a priority of national health authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and other health partners.

As of 1 November, the vaccination services were significantly expanded across the country where over 120 external vaccination sites were set out Iraq-wide to target 12 million people including children aged 12 years and above.

The local health authorities, WHO, UNICEF, and other health actors are collaborating on efforts to rapidly increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage by end of this year.

"The Ministry of Health of Iraq affirms the continuity of its efforts to provide vaccines procured through the COVAX Facility, of which Iraq is a partner, and to increase the number of  outlets to increase vaccine uptake in the shortest possible period. The Ministry would like to thank all our local and international partners for their efforts to make the vaccine accessible to all eligible recipients in Iraq," said Iraqi Acting Minister of Health and Environment, Hani Mousa Badr Al-Akabi.

UNICEF, WHO and the Iraqi Ministry of Health have, moreover, intensified the vaccine uptake activities in the past few months, by building the capacity of the local delivery system in Iraq and engaging communities in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout process. Collaborative work on the timely procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is also ongoing, and more doses of WHO-approved vaccines are expected to arrive over the next few months.

"We welcome the arrival of these vaccines as they arrive at a time where Iraq is stepping up efforts to contain the pandemic. This shipment is an important part of the continuing fight against COVID-19 in Iraq," said UNICEF Representative in Iraq, Sheema Sen Gupta.

"We cannot end the pandemic without the vaccine. However, vaccines alone do not replace the need for public health and social measures; they complement them," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq. "These recent vaccine shipments from COVAX are a step in the right direction in our joint quest to increase population immunity against COVID-19 in Iraq," Dr. Zouiten added.

The COVAX Facility is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide.

These deliveries of BioNTech Pfizer vaccines to Iraq are another milestone towards the COVAX Facility's goal on access. In addition to ensuring sufficient vaccine supply, partner agencies are working to ensure community awareness and provide support to vaccine administration by local health authorities. WHO, UNICEF, and other key health contributors are striving to end this pandemic in Iraq, and globally, as quickly as possible.

(Source: UN)

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Iraq launches COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

The World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, today launched a national COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign covering all Iraq including the Kurdistan Region and targeting over 12 million people with children 12 years old and above.

The campaign which commenced today will last until December 31st 2021, and will certainly give momentum to the vaccine rollout process in Iraq to reach up to 40% vaccination covertage rate among the general population by end of this year.

"COVID 19 continues to be the biggest challenge of our time and we must all unite to overcome this devastating public health threat as no one is safe until we are all safe," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.

"WHO and the Ministry of Health in Iraq raised the challenge to vaccinate the maximum number of people possible to control the COVID19 Pandemic as soon as possible, under the theme of "COVID19 Vaccine is a gateway to a normal life". Vaccination has today come in a new outfit and will be delivered in easy-to-access sites, open for long working hours extending to the evening. There will be a lifesaving dose of immunity against this vicious disease for every Iraqi, no one should be left behind" Dr. Zouiten added.

This new external vaccination setting will witness the opening of more than 100 external mass vaccination sites distributed to the 18 Iraqi governorates based on the demographic situation, health indicators, and capacity of each governorate. The sites will further be supported by more than 225 vaccination and direct registration teams deployed with the required daily supply of vaccine doses.

This new COVID 19 inoculation arrangement will support the health system in Iraq to maintain the routine immunization program which was significantly affected by the designation of the health facilities to the delivery of COVID 19 health care services in 2020-2021.

"The Ministry of Health in Iraq and WHO are happy to announce the launch of a massive COVID 19 vaccination campaign today," said Dr. Riyadh Al Hilfy, Director General of the Public Health Directorate in the Iraqi Ministry of Health. "The campaign will target a vast majority of the vaccine eligible population in Iraq through external vaccination outlets with on-spot registration. Our short-term goal is to vaccinate a minimum of 40% of our people including our children aged 12yrs upwards."

"Vaccines are now available, and we urge our citizens to go get their jabs. Let's stand by each other to overcome the difficulties resulting from this disease and bring life back to normal with our determination and the support of our partners," Dr. Alhilfy added.

The vaccine rollout process in Iraq started in March this year accessing 15.1% of the total population with the first dose and only 9.0% with the two vaccine doses as of 6 November 2021. Committed to WHO global vision of scaling the vaccination coverage in all world's countries to 40% by end of this year, the coverage rates in Iraq have raised the concern of the health authorities and WHO in Iraq and necessitated an urgent action to intensify the vaccination activities in an innovative and accessible to all approach.

"WHO would like to reiterate that we cannot end the pandemic without COVID-19 vaccines. We will stop this pandemic only when the majority of people in Iraq take the vaccine," but vaccines should be complemented by public health and social measures. WHO calls upon citizens to seize the opportunity of direct vaccine administration to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe," explained Dr. Zouiten.

WHO Iraq would like to express its gratitude to the German People and Government for their generous financial contribution which enabled the planning and the implementation of this remarkable event, the first of the kind in the region so far.

(Source: UN)

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Korea Supports Vulnerable Families in Iraq

The Republic of Korea supports vulnerable families in Iraq to put food on the table

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a US$1 million contribution from the Republic of Korea to support WFP's food assistance for up to 327,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees until the end of the year, who are living in camps.

"Through the persistent pandemic and given that many families are still unable to return home, or are suffering in displacement for the second time or more, the Republic of Korea contribution will help us ensure these families are not left behind," said WFP Representative in Iraq Ally-Raza Qureshi. "Our sincere thanks to the people and government of Korea for this generous support. The Republic of Korea is WFP's long-standing partner in Iraq, helping families through this critical time."

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the lives of families, alongside rises in food prices, which makes this contribution even more timely.

"With more than 2.4. million people, including IDPs, refugees, returnees and host communities, still being in acute need of humanitarian assistance in Iraq, the Republic of Korea is making continued efforts to support its partners in addressing these requirements," said Jang Kyung-Wook (pictured), Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Iraq.

"WFP plays a critical humanitarian role in Iraq by providing emergency food assistance to those in need, and it is my sincere hope that Korea's contribution this year will help WFP continue its life-saving operations to meet the food security needs of IDPs and refugees living in camps."

In addition, WFP launched in July monthly cash assistance to displaced families who recently left camps, or who are no longer in formal camp settings. WFP assessments found that these families cannot afford the minimum food needs and are resorting to negative coping strategies such as eating less or going into debt and, hence, need continued support outside formal camp settings.

WFP's out-of-camp response is working to support 18,000 people. In parallel and as part of the UN's 'durable solutions' approach, WFP is expanding livelihoods activities dedicated for 22,000 out-of-camp IDPs and host communities in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates, over 13 months.

(Source: UN)

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ILO workshop on Maternity Protection in Iraq

ILO workshop with tripartite partners sheds light on maternity protection in Iraq

A one day workshop funded by the European Union focusing on maternity protection was organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Baghdad on Tuesday (November 2).

The workshop, which brought together representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the women's department in the Ministry of Industry and Minerals, employers' and workers' representatives, is part of efforts to support progress towards Iraq's ratification of ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183).

The convention  seeks to ensure that the right to work and rights at work of all employed women are adequately protected during maternity and beyond. It sets standards for health protection, maternity leave, benefits, nursing, employment protection and non-discrimination.

ILO specialists on gender, social security and International Labour Standards held sessions, which focused on the key provisions of ILO Convention No.183; gaps in the legal and regulatory framework for maternity protection; the role of social security in guaranteeing maternity protection; and the broader implications of maternity protection for gender equality and women's participation in the labour market. The event also shed light on Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) .

With support from the European Union, the ILO, together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), are implementing a joint programme with the Government of Iraq to reform social protection in the country.

The ILO, through the joint programme, is providing technical support in the development of the draft retirement and social security law. The draft law is intended to replace the current Social Security Law No. 39 of 1971. If passed, the draft law will bring in several changes that would make the Iraqi social security legislation closer to meeting the minimum requirements of International Labour Standards.

"The ongoing efforts for the ratification of Convention No.183 and Convention No.102 will enhance and increase women's access to decent work in Iraq," said Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

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First Women’s Protection Centre in Diwaniyah

The Governorate of Diwaniyah and UNFPA inaugurated today the first Women Protection Centre in the Governorate, with funding from Canada and Sweden.

The Centre will offer psychosocial and legal assistance,  medical counselling and protection for survivors of gender-based violence. Women and girls will be able to benefit from special programmes on empowerment, life skills and livelihood education.

The inauguration was attended by Mr Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, Governor of Diwaniyah,  Dr Yousra Al-Allak, Head of Women Empowerment Department and Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, as well as representatives from the civil society and women-led organisations.

Speaking at the event, the Governor highlighted the centre's importance to women and girls in Diwaniyah:

"Women play an important role in our society. Diwaniyah is proud to establish a centre that provides a comprehensive package of services for survivors of gender-based violence. When women are protected and provided with the right tools, they can thrive."

For his part, Dr Yousra Al-Allak reiterated:

"Establishing a Protection Women Centre is a very good first step. However, to ensure the proper development of Iraq, we need legislation that protects women and girls from gender-based violence and ensures their rights are preserved".

In her speech, Dr Columbia emphasised the importance of safe spaces for women and girls survivors of any form of violence. She thanked the local authorities, Women Empowerment Department and civil society for their efforts to prevent and respond to GBV.  She called on other governorates to follow this example to take concrete steps towards eliminating gender-based violence in Iraq.

Speeches also called the Parliament to adopt the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and endorse the legal framework for gender-based violence service provision and protection of women.

(Source: UN)

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Agreement to Support Women in Qadisiyah

UNFPA and Qadisiyah Governorate signed a cooperation agreement on Tuesday to scale up the support to girls and women in the governorate.

The agreement signed by Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative, and Mr Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, the Governor of Qadisiyah will ensure that women and girls have access to protection and proper services to respond to gender-based violence.

In addition, it will provide the Directorates of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, and Interior (Family Protection Unit) with the opportunity to strengthen their expertise on service delivery to survivors to deal with gender-based violence.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Al-Shaalan emphasised the governorate's full support to work with UNFPA to ensure the success of the project to provide quality service to women and girls. He also reiterated the governorate's efforts to enhance the role of women and girls, increase equality in leadership roles and become a unique model for active communities to contribute to the development process.

Dr Columbia thanked the Governor for supporting the needs and rights of women and girls in Qadisiyah:

"On behalf of UNFPA Iraq, I welcome this initiative and look forward to our joint actions to protect women and girls from violence and provide them with so much needed services."

The cooperation agreement between UNFPA and the Governorate is within the UNFPA 2020-2024 Country Programme Document and the Memorandum of Understanding between UNFPA and the Government of Iraq, through the Ministry of Planning.

(Source: UN)

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Germany supports Critical Assistance to Displaced in Iraq

Germany supports WFP's critical assistance to displaced and refugee families in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a €6 million contribution from the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) to support WFP's monthly food assistance to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees living in Iraq.

WFP monthly food assistance to displaced families and refugees has become more critical with the rise in food prices and the devaluation of the Iraqi currency as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic effects.

This contribution is part of the Germany's multi-year commitment to WFP to ensure no one is left behind.

"We share a common responsibility to support those in need, especially refugees and the displaced, and we value that Iraq and in particular the communities in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah have taken in so many families who had to leave their homes," said Chargé d'Affairs a.i. of the German Embassy in Baghdad Annika Bolten-Drutschmann. ""We consider WFP's cash transfers a flexible means of assistance that also benefits the host community and small businesses through buying locally."

WFP provides most of its monthly assistance to vulnerable families through cash transfers, through practical 'mobile money' solutions - where families receive cash assistance via mobile phone and can also use it electronically at local stores or - in the case of people living in camps - through electronic vouchers that can be redeemed in camp food shops. When such electronic solutions are not possible, for instance in areas where there is no network coverage, WFP provides through its partners direct cash assistance.

In addition, WFP distributes ready-to-eat food parcels for families who have to be quarantined as part of COVID-19 measures. These rations have also been useful in the past months following tragic fires which occurred in camps in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah.

"Germany continues to be a key partner for WFP in Iraq," said WFP Representative in Iraq Ally-Raza Qureshi. "As one of WFP's few partners to make multi-year contributions, Germany's leading example enables WFP to plan its assistance this and next year, to best meet the food requirements of families in need. We thank the German government and people for their support at this critical time."

Alongside ongoing emergency operations, WFP is expanding resilience-building and livelihoods activities across the country, to help conflict-affected families and communities create and sustain work opportunities. These are particularly needed as families continue to return home from camps, or settle in new areas. Germany is also a staunch supporter of these endeavours, through its Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

(Source: UN)

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US contributes $53.3m to UNHCR Ops in Iraq

UNHCR welcomes the generous contribution of USD 53.3 million by the Government of the United States of America (USA) towards UNHCR's protection and assistance programmes to support vulnerable displaced persons (IDPs) and Syrian refugees in Iraq.

This contribution brings the total USA contribution to UNHCR Iraq in 2021 to USD 88 million. Thus far, the UNHCR operation in Iraq is 35% funded.

There are over 247,000 Syrian refugees and 1.2 million IDPs currently living in Iraq. For these vulnerable families living through protracted displacement under dire living conditions, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn has been remarkably severe.

This timely donation will enable UNHCR to support the refugees and IDPs with life-saving services. The services include, among others, protection interventions covering legal protection and registration services, child protection, the prevention of gender-based violence, and community-based protection, in addition to camp management, education support, and the rehabilitation of infrastructure, schools, and health facilities.

"The U.S. Mission in Iraq is proud of its long-standing support of UNHCR in Iraq. Our contributions to UNHCR reinforce our commitment to the Iraqi people for voluntary, sustainable, long-term solutions for those citizens who suffered under ISIS and now seek to return home and rebuild their lives," said U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew H. Tueller.

"The tough economic situation had significantly impacted the lives of refugee and IDP families. However, the continuous and reliable support from the USA helps us continue providing life-saving assistance, which can be a lifeline for these families", said Nicole Epting, UNHCR Representative a.i.

UNHCR is grateful for the generous and long-standing support of the United States to UNHCR globally. This support means that UNHCR can continue to offer protection and pursue durable solutions for internally displaced people and refugees in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

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Germany, IOM Strengthen Humanitarian Response in Iraq

Germany, IOM Strengthen Partnership for Evolving Humanitarian Response in Iraq

During the ISIL conflict, an estimated six million Iraqis were displaced.

Thousands of families have returned to their areas of origin since the end of the crisis, but unstable conditions in Iraq have caused a significant shift in the country's humanitarian situation.

As country-wide camp consolidation and closure processes move forward, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are reckoning with the complex experiences of premature return and secondary displacement. Returnees residing in hotspots of severe living conditions and IDPs living in strained camps and informal sites are in urgent need of adapted humanitarian assistance.

As a part of its ongoing support for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq, the Government of Germany will provide additional multi-year humanitarian funding that will better position IOM to adapt and rapidly implement its intervention strategy to address the evolving needs of the affected populations while remaining flexible to respond to sudden onset crises.

The latest grant from the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) supplements an ongoing IOM Iraq project launched in March 2020. In addition to enhancing visibility, this multi-year humanitarian funding allows for longer-term planning and programme continuity. This is crucial, as remaining populations facing protracted displacement are in need of sustained assistance until solutions to their displacement are found.

"This funding from the German Federal Foreign Office is not only generous, it is flexible and will extend over the years to come," said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. "This will enhance IOM's capacity to pursue a holistic and sustained response to displacement that corresponds to the scope of urgent need in Iraq."

The funding will be used to implement a broad range of humanitarian activities, from camp management in formal and informal sites to specialized, community-based protection and mental health and psychosocial support services both in- and out-of-camp. For those living in sub-standard or damaged shelters, funding will provide immediate relief solutions for improved safety, protection and living conditions. Interventions will also provide non-food item assistance and support primary health care centres to ensure accessibility and quality of essential services.

"Germany remains committed to the needs of internally displaced persons in Iraq. The broad range of individual IDP situations requires tailor-made solutions. We want to give partner organisations as much flexibility as possible so they can adapt to changing situations on the ground and live up to their ambition to deliver humanitarian assistance in accordance with priority needs," said Chargé d'affaires Peter Felten (pictured) of the German Embassy in Iraq. "We are very happy to continue our partnership with IOM in this regard."

Continuing support from the Government of Germany enables IOM Iraq to respond to pressing humanitarian needs while also working to determine root causes of and durable solutions to displacement, thereby facilitating the safe relocation or return and reintegration of IDPs into their communities.

(Source: UN)

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Addressing the Needs of Iraq’s Most Vulnerable

Addressing needs of Iraq's most vulnerable critical for inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19, new UNDP reports say

Recovery strategies targeting Iraq's vulnerable populations - including women, youth and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) -  must be prioritized to ensure inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 in Iraq, according to two new complementary reports released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Both reports emanate from a study that explores the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on socio-economic status and livelihoods at the household level, with a focus on its impact on vulnerable groups such as women, youth, children, persons with disabilities, and displaced communities. It compares urban and rural settings and considers impacts in both Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Original data collected and presented in the first report, Findings of the Assessment of COVID-19's Socioeconomic Impact on Iraq's Vulnerable Populations forms the basis for the subsequent policy report: Impact of COVID-19 on Iraq's Vulnerable Populations. The latter examines policy implications of the data findings and argues that building an inclusive path forward will require establishing sustainable systems and structures, listening and responding to the voices of the vulnerable, and laying out realistic goals to enable attainment of the 2030 Agenda.

Key findings include:

  • Income losses were widespread, with differences between Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, displaced vs non-displaced populations, and women and men employees.
  • Daily workers were most affected by the economic downturn
  • COVID-19 led to high food costs and the need for coping strategies
  • While community insecurity and gender-based violence increased, community level tensions were low.
  • Delayed income and loss of employment opportunities impacted households
  • Women and female-headed households reported greater impacts in some areas, such as a reduction in household income.

The reports are the sixth and seventh papers in a series released by UNDP on the impact of COVID-19 in Iraq.

"COVID-19 has, and will continue to have, long-term consequences for vulnerable Iraqis in accessing sustainable livelihoods, food security, health and education - particularly women, youth, the elderly, people living with disabilities and the displaced," says Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

"As the report clearly suggests, without sufficient attention to these vulnerable communities, Iraq may not achieve long-term, equitable sustainable development and recovery, and risks undoing the progress made towards achieving Agenda 2030. This could further undermine the social contract between the State and its citizens at a time where this is of critical importance. We urge the Government of Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government, local actors and the international community to consider the policy recommendations outlined in the report and band together and tackle this issue. As always, UNDP Iraq stands ready to support these efforts to improve the lives of all Iraqis," adds Ms Ali Ahmad.

UNDP Iraq is grateful to UN-Habitat and IOM for its partnership and important contributions to Findings of the Assessment of COVID-19's Socioeconomic Impact on Iraq's Vulnerable Population and Impact of COVID-19 on Iraq's Vulnerable Populations.

Previously released papers in UNDP's socioeconomic impact assessment series:

Impact of COVID-19 and the Oil Crisis on Iraq's Fragility

Impact of COVID-19 on the Iraqi Economy

Impact of COVID-19 on Social Cohesion in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Social Protection in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Environmental Sustainability in Iraq

(Source: UN)

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