Enhanced Access to Primary Health Services in Anbar

Japan and UNOPS Enhanced Access to Primary Health Services in Anbar Governorate

With the continued support from the Government of Japan, UNOPS handed over Al Adel Primary Health Center in Anbar, along with other six primary health centers in Al Ramadi, which were rehabilitated under the "Restoration of Access to Urgent Primary Health Services in Anbar Governorate" project.

In addition to the rehabilitation works, the project procured 25 pieces of medical equipment, 248 pieces of furniture, and more than 2000 supplies.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Dr. Wisam Salah, Deputy Director of General Office in the Directorate of Health in Anbar, said:

"The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq came at a time when the Government of Iraq was working to improve the living conditions of its citizens, who in previous years suffered from lack of basic services and infrastructure, especially health services, due to instability, conflict and many challenges. Not only this project improves the health services for the people in Al Ramadi, but also contributes to reducing the pressure on the hospitals designated for treatment of COVID-19 and severe cases."

H.E. Mr. SUZUKI Kotaro, Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, congratulated on the completion of Al Adel Primary Health Center and said:

"The mission and activities of medical professionals dedicated to protecting people's health and saving lives in the most difficult situation should be lauded". He went on to say: "I would like to express my gratitude and respect to the people of UNOPS, who play indispensable roles in these operations".

Mr. Muhammad Usman Akram, the Director of UNOPS Multi-Country Office in Amman, said:

"Thanks to the generous funding from the Government of Japan, UNOPS worked hand in hand with the Directorate of Health in Anbar to serve approximately 123,000 beneficiaries and make a difference in the health sector for the people of Iraq. UNOPS remains committed to supporting our Iraqi partners and the people of Iraq in their efforts to address the challenges in the health sector, and enhance their resilience to counter the future challenges."

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the health conditions in Iraq and increased the need to enhance the health centers' infrastructure and to improve their capacities in the provision of inclusive healthcare to the Iraqi people. The project supported the health sector through enhancing access for all to medical services in support of the COVID-19 response in the targeted areas of Anbar Governorate.

Through gender-sensitive rehabilitation of primary health centers, and the provision of medical equipment, supplies and furniture, the project contributed to improving the overall living conditions of the beneficiaries including vulnerable and marginalised populations, returnees, and internally displaced persons.

The project supported Sustainable Development Goal 3 - "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages".

(Source: UN)

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Health Facilities Reopened after Destruction by ISIL

Health facilities in Al-Karma officially reopen after destruction by ISIL

Two newly-rehabilitated health facilities - the External Consultancy Clinic and Al-Sijr Public Health Centre were officially reopened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Government of Australia and Anbar Governorate.

When ISIL captured Al-Karma, the health facilities across the region suffered extensive damages. Equipment was stolen and infrastructure was left destroyed. Prior to rehabilitation of the health facilities, residents were forced to travel more than fifteen kilometers to Fallujah Teaching Hospital for treatment and medical services.

The two facilities were rehabilitated by UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) with generous funding provided by the Government of Australia.  In addition, the Government of Denmark provided furniture and USAID supplied equipment to the Al-Sijr Public Health Centre.

"The reopening of the External Consultancy Clinic and Al-Sijr Public Health Centre in Al-Karma is an important milestone to restoring essential health services across the region. However, our commitment to building Iraq forward better and stabilizing areas affected by ISIL do not end here. We have also supported the rehabilitation of over 50 health facilities in Anbar alone. This includes clinics, public health centers, hospitals and even specialty hospitals such as maternity and dental clinics," says UNDP Resident Representative in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

"We are here today because of the generous funding and longstanding partnership with the international community. The rehabilitation of the two facilities would not have been possible without the support provided by the Government of Australia. I would also like to thank Government of Denmark for providing the furniture and USAID for supplying the equipment at the Al-Sijr Public Health Centre," she added.

"Australia values our longstanding partnership with the Government of Iraq and UNDP and is proud to support recovery efforts in this country. The conflict with ISIL left severe damage to vital infrastructure and impacted the lives of many Iraqis, says Ms. Paula Ganly, the Australian Ambassador to Iraq.

"The Australian Government believes that access to adequate health care is a basic human right. The rehabilitation and functioning of these clinics will provide essential health services to Karma district and surrounds," she added.

Since 2015, through the Funding Facility for Stabilization, UNDP has completed around 3,100 stabilization projects across the liberated areas of Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salah Al-Din.  To date, the programme has supported the return of more than 4.8 million people back to their place of origin.

(Source: UN)

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WHO marks 5 Yrs of Strategic Partnership with USAID in Iraq

WHO marks five years of strategic partnership with USAID in Iraq

The World Health Organization (WHO) marks the five-year milestone of its strategic partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the provision of life-saving and essential healthcare services to vulnerable populations in Iraq.

Over the past five years, USAID has provided WHO Iraq with support totalling US$122 million.

Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative in Iraq, said@

"USAID has been the biggest funding partner of WHO in Iraq over the past five years. We're proud of this genuine and growing partnership, which helped us expand access to much-needed healthcare services for millions of people in different governorates.

"We greatly value and appreciate this impactful partnership, and we're exploring new opportunities to deepen this collaborative partnership further."

Impact of USAID's contribution

Thanks to the generous contribution from USAID, over 6 million primary health care consultations, including mental and physical rehabilitation services, were provided to Iraqi citizens, while over 1,500 individuals benefited from various capacity building training.

USAID support also provided 56 new ambulances to the Iraqi health system, helping to ensure uninterrupted access to referral services. Funds also went to delivering essential medicines, medical supplies and diagnostic equipment to various conflict-affected governorates to provide comprehensive primary health care services to millions of people, including around 300,000 Syrian refugees and host communities in Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah governorates.

In addition, USAID has contributed to WHO-Iraq's preparedness and response to COVID-19 by adding up to 800 new COVID-19 vaccination locations, including in challenging humanitarian areas, such as in camps housing refugees and internally displaced persons.

It is also providing equipment and supplies, as well as technical assistance to Iraqi laboratories, clinics, and hospitals for testing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19. USAID funding is also helping train frontline workers on caring for COVID-19 patients and organizing awareness-raising campaigns.

Heather Schildge, Acting USAID Mission Director to Iraq, said:

"The United States is the leading humanitarian assistance provider in Iraq. We are pleased to celebrate five years of fruitful partnership with the WHO and stand committed to working with the Government of Iraq and other partners to provide critical services to Iraq's most vulnerable populations."

(Source: UN)

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UNICEF Iraq gets $26m from Germany for COVID Response

UNICEF receives US$26 Million from the Government of Germany to support the provision of basic services and the COVID-19 response in Iraq

The funding will allow 1 million children and adolescents to have continued access to learning through a combination of approaches such as blended learning and 50,000 vulnerable people to receive critical child protection services

The Government of Germany has contributed $26 million to UNICEF to support UNICEF in its ongoing efforts to assist the Government of Iraq in strengthening its systems and improve access to quality basic services for children and their families in the context of COVID-19. This amount brings the German Government's total contributions to UNICEF in Iraq to over 200 million dollars since 2015.

The funding includes support for measures addressing the impact of COVID-19 by ensuring communities continue to receive essential water, sanitation, education and child protection preventive and response services. This will include the provision of personal protective equipment to 20,000 healthcare providers and hand sanitizer gel, soap bars and hand hygiene promotion to over 200,000 people.

"This funding is crucial as we support Iraq to increase access to basic services and bolster the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. UNICEF thanks the Government of Germany for this timely support and partnership to accelerate our efforts to ensure every child in Iraq has access to safe water, education, social and child protection services when required," said Sheema SenGupta, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.

"Children belong to the most vulnerable members of the Iraqi population, especially those living in IDP camps. I was very touched recently by my visit in a UNICEF-built school in Shariya Camp", said GER Ambassador to Iraq, Martin Jäger. "Germany is funding UNICEF activities to make sure that Iraqi children grow up equipped with what they need most: health and education, because we can only overcome the Covid pandemic together, it is a global challenge where no one is safe until everyone is safe."

An estimated 1 million children and adolescents will have continued access to learning through a combination of approaches such as blended learning, education TV & online portals and self-learning materials. At least 50,000 people will receive critical child protection services mainly from high-risk areas across Iraq and areas with vulnerable populations, such as camps for the internally displaced and returnee community areas.

In addition, UNICEF will support provision of access to safe, equitable, gender-inclusive water and sanitation services for over 700,000 vulnerable people and their families in targeted governorates, including community-focused hygiene promotion and improvement of WASH services in schools and healthcare facilities.

The project will primarily benefit children and young people, who make up more than half the population of Iraq. As the country marks two years since the pandemic was declared, the number of children and young people estimated to be under the poverty line has doubled. Children and young people are also the most at risk of experiencing poverty, service disruptions in critical basic services like primary health, water sanitation and hygiene, education and increase in rights violations.

UNICEF, in collaboration with the Government of Iraq and partners, will continue to work on long-term sustainability of national systems by strengthening national capacity to provide integrated access to basic services with the goal of enabling children to overcome poverty, enjoy their rights and fulfil their full potential.

(Source: UN)

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Rapid Response Team for Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever

WHO builds capacity of rapid response team in Iraq with a focus on Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

The World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the Ministry of Health in Iraq, concluded today a three-day workshop aimed at building the capacity of the country's rapid response team (RRT) in field investigation and response, with an emphasis on the recent outbreak of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

The workshop, organized in collaboration with the Government of Japan, targeted 42 participants, including physicians, veterinarians, lab technicians, health workers and zoonotic diseases investigators from 13 Iraqi governorates.

"Rapid response teams constitute a pillar in human security and have contributed to containing outbreaks of epidemic- and pandemic-prone diseases in Iraq and beyond. This training, which used CCHF as a case study, will further equip the RRT with knowledge and capacities to control any future outbreaks of this anthropo-zoonotic disease in Iraq and regionally," said Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative in Iraq.

"We are very grateful for the collaboration with the Government of Japan, which enabled us to conduct this important training workshop and are looking forward to further collaboration to strengthen health security in Iraq. We're also pleased with the effective cooperation between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and WHO to tackle this disease," he added.

During the workshop, experts from the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and WHO country office in Iraq discussed the national zoonotic disease preparedness and response plan in the context of One Health.

The team delivered various presentations focused on infectious hazard prevention and preparedness, including rapid risk assessment, case management, risk communication and community engagement, data management, and report writing. Working group exercises followed each of these sessions, with participants divided into multisectoral teams similar to the constitution of RRTs in the field.

The CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. Most cases have occurred among people working in the livestock industry such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.

The disease has been endemic to Iraq since 1979, with few sporadic cases reported across the country. At times, small outbreaks have been reported, with the last outbreak happening in 2021 with 18 cases confirmed in Thi-qar and Ninawa Governorates.

(Source: WHO)

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UNFPA hands over 11 Women’s Centres in Duhok

UNFPA hands over 11 women centres in Duhok to the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs

UNFPA and its partner Harikar Organisation handed over 11 Women Community Centres to the Directorate of Labour and Social Affairs in Duhok.

The Women Community Centres were first established by UNFPA in 2013 amid the humanitarian crisis, during the war against ISIL. The centres, which provided psychosocial support, case management, life skills activities and awareness sessions to women and girls, were located in 11 camps for refugees (4) and internally displaced persons (7).

The handover took place in presence of Dr Sherzad Hamed, Director General of the Labour and Social Affairs in Duhok, Mr Himyar Abdulmoghni, Deputy Representative of UNFPA in Iraq and Mr Salah Yaseen, Head of Harikar Organisation, in the presence of government and governorate representatives, staff from the Directorate of Labour and Social Affairs and social workers from the Women Community Centres.

Speaking during the ceremony, Dr Hamed, said:

"We are happy to take on these centres to help the women and girls in our community. I thank UNFPA for their partnership and for the ongoing building and strengthening of the capacity of the Directorate's staff. Our collaboration will ensure we maintain good quality services to all women and girls requiring assistance at these Women Community Centres."

For his part, Mr Abdulmoghni emphasised that this handover comes as part of  UNFPA transition strategy that was developed in full consultation with all stakeholders to ensure the continuance of gender-based violence and women empowerment related services to women and girls in camps:

"The importance of transitioning these centres from NGO's management to the Government is to ensure sustainability of the confidential multi-sectoral response and services, including medical, psychosocial and legal services for GBV survivors and confirm the government accountability to the most vulnerable women and girls."

The Deputy also thanked Harikar Organisation for being a key partner in the provision of quality gender-based violence and reproductive health services to women and girls amid consecutive crises in Iraq since 2013 to date.

In 2022, UNFPA will hand over another 11 Women Community Centres to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in addition to the centres already handed over.

(Source: UN)

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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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WHO provides Medical Supplies to KRI for COVID-19 response

The World Health Organization (WHO) handed over more than 20 tons of urgently needed medical technologies to the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The 117-pallet consignment contains a variety of emergency medical devices, mechanical and intensive care unit beds, personal protection equipment (PPEs), and in-kind medical furniture that will contribute to boosting the quality of medical care services and enhancing the local health authority's preparedness to encounter a potential transmission of the Omicron variant in what is considered as the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq.

"I am happy at the level of collaboration between the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan Region of Iraq and WHO and would like to thank all the hard efforts behind this continued support," said Dr. Saman Barzangy, Minister of Health in KR-I. "This shipment of emergency medical supplies will surely make a difference in the quality and quantity of health care services delivered in our health institutions. Hundreds of thousands of people will now ensure better access to essential and emergency health care services including COVID-19 treatment," H.E. Dr. Barzangy added.

After the significant decrease in COVID-19 infections in the last months of 2021, helped by the rise in numbers of vaccinated people across Iraq, the infection figures started to surge again recently alarming of a new wave of the pandemic in the country, which could relate to the detection of the Omicron variant in the northern city of Duhok in KR-I and the capital Baghdad on 6 January this year.

"This consignment complements the previous emergency and lifesaving support presented to enforce the local health authorities' response to the new surge in Omicron variant cases," said Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq.

"We are concerned about the recent drive in case numbers which we see as a call for a collective action to promote the local prevention and vaccination efforts. WHO and the Ministry of Health on both the Central and Kurdistan Regional levels share the same goal of working to protect the Iraqis and save lives through accessible, sustainable, and affordable quality health care services across the country," Dr. Zouiten added.

It is worth mentioning that in 2021, WHO Iraq supported the Ministry of Health in KR-I with medical equipment and pharmaceuticals worth of over US$2.5 million. The support assisted in augmenting the provision of essential and emergency health care services in the KR-I governorates and productively contributed to addressing the dire health needs of the region's community which continues to host nearly a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and over 1 million internally displaced Iraqis.

The World Health Organization in Iraq would like to express its gratitude for the generous contribution from the People and Government of Germany, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the People and Government of Kuwait for assisting in funding this medical and lab support.

(Source: UN)

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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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