Global Solidarity Needed for Iraq’s Vulnerable Children

From Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra). Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

In this conversation with Liz McRae, Hussein Al-alak hears about the efforts which the Iraqi Children Foundation have been undertaking, during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Liz McRae is the Executive Director of the Iraqi Children Foundation.

Can you tell us about the Iraqi Children Foundation and why it was founded?

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) intervenes in the lives of orphans and street children who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers and extremists. The organization was set up ten years ago by Americans who saw the need to help rebuild Iraq after so many years of conflict. More than 800,000 children were orphaned as a result of the Iraq War, and the ISIS occupation displaced another 1.3 million.

Our vision is that all children in Iraq have a voice, and are empowered to reach their full potential. All our programs have this goal in mind. We help vulnerable children through programs like "The Hope Buses"; we convert used city buses into colorful, child friendly classrooms. Each bus has two teachers and a social worker, and serves around 50 children with tutoring, nutrition, health care, social services, practical life lessons, community, and fun.

Another program is called "The Street Lawyers"; a team of lawyers who provide legal protection for children who are targeted by criminals and traffickers, abused by employers, or are facing other risks. They also assist children to get their papers so that they can go to school.

The ICF supports children who are vulnerable. Can you describe some of these vulnerabilities?

There are many vulnerable children in Iraq. In particular, we work with children who are orphaned (meaning, they have lost one or both parents), and children who are working to support their families.

Many children in Iraq are also vulnerable due to displacement caused by conflict. These children are vulnerable to abuse and can be targeted by criminals and extremists. More recently, COVID-19 adds an extra challenge for children and families, as it has done for people all over the world.

The ICF also supports children who are at risk of exploitation. As Iraq experiences many challenges, how does exploitation manifest itself?

For families experiencing poverty, displacement, or a lack of access to job opportunities, the possibility of exploitation is increased. Many children in Iraq have to work to support their families, especially when one or both parents have died. These children can be exploited by employers, and are easy targets for criminals and extremist organizations.

The risk of exploitation is also heightened by the fact that children working are often not attending school on a regular basis. Without access to education, it becomes harder to stay away from potentially exploitative situations.

Many countries have been under lockdown due to the Covid Pandemic, what have the ICF been doing during this time?

Many children in Iraq face incredible hardship every single day, often without access to proper nutrition, education, healthcare, and safety. COVID-19 adds new challenges for these children, and also exacerbates the existing issues.For children living in poor communities, social distancing is difficult (if not impossible) due to large numbers of people living in close confines, and there may be little or no access to hygiene supplies or PPE, food, work, school, and community members. The bottom line is: COVID-19 makes vulnerable children more vulnerable.

During this critical time, we are doing our best to help keep children as safe and healthy as possible. Teams have been distributing food and hygiene supplies to vulnerable children and families in multiple cities, and our Hope Bus staff have paid home visits to children from the Hope Buses to show them how to use PPE and practice good hygiene so that they can stay safe during COVID-19.

We continue to work with the teams on the ground in Iraq, who are doing their best to work safely and always with the best interests of the children in mind.

How can people within the international community, support the Iraqi Children Foundation and their work in Iraq? 

You can do a lot from home; you are not powerless to help the vulnerable children in Iraq. Here are some things you can do to help:

Follow and spread the word - follow us on social media to learn more about the challenges Iraqi Children are facing, to hear ICF news and progress, and share to spread the word so we can make a larger impact (Facebook/LinkedIn: Iraqi Children Foundation, Instagram/Twitter: @IraqiChildren)

Give what you can - every dollar matters, especially now. Donate any amount at our Global Giving page to help. Also, new monthly donors get a 100% match on their first month of giving.

Fundraise - help us fundraise; start your own mini-campaign using Global Giving or Facebook - it only takes 5 minutes! Email liz@iraqichildren.org to find out more, and we can help you set it up.

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Dr. Rafid Aziz Joins Board of Iraqi Children Foundation

Dr. Rafid Aziz Joins Board of Directors of Iraqi Children Foundation

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Rafid Aziz (pictured), President of the United Iraqi Medical Association in the United Kingdom, to join the ICF Board of Directors.

Grant Felgenhauer, ICF Board Chairman, said:

"ICF has pledged in 2021 to expand services to meet the medical and disability needs of Iraqi orphans and vulnerable children. Having a medical professional of such distinction on our Board will help equip ICF to pursue that commitment. We are thrilled to have Dr. Aziz join our team."

ICF has provided occasional medical support to children in Iraq in recent years, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, and clinical services. But the charity hopes to develop a more robust medical program. Dr. Aziz will be leading ICF's efforts to expand outreach and support to Iraqi orphans and vulnerable children with medical and disability needs.

Dr. Aziz, who went to medical school in Baghdad, Iraq, serves as President of the United Iraqi Medical Association (UIMA) for the UK and Ireland, an independent network that was established to look after the professional and social needs of the Iraqi healthcare community in the UK, as well as to support medical/nursing education and effective healthcare policy in Iraq. He is also the Medical Director, Integrated Urgent Care Clinical Lead, and a trainer at Hertz Urgent Care in the UK.

(Source: ICF)

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Italy, UNOPS to provide Services for Returnees in Sinjar

AICS and UNOPS Partner to Rehabilitate the Basic Services for Returnees in Sinjar, Iraq

The Italian Cooperation and UNOPS launched a new project to support the Government of Iraq in rehabilitating basic services to returnees in Sinjar.

The project will support the Government of Iraq in rehabilitating the basic water services for returnees in Sinjar district in Iraq, through a partnership with the Government of Italy.

The project will contribute to achieving the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Iraq: Post-conflict transition towards durable solutions by supporting access to basic services to increase the resilience of returnees in target locations.

Since 2018, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) office in Amman has also been responsible for implementing international cooperation initiatives in Iraq. "Our support has focused on the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) and neighbouring areas such as the Ninewa plains, which experienced high rates of return after the massive displacement of the resident population," said the Head of AICS Amman office Mr. Michele Morana.

"This project comes in line with the Italian Cooperation's aid priorities targeting the health and protection sectors in the Country, as it addresses immediate recovery and aims to improve accessibility, inclusiveness and quality of basic services for minorities and local communities".

"The Government of Italy fully supports the urgent need to rebuild Sinjar, through the restoration of basic services as key to incentivizing the return of still displaced people. Every effort should also be taken to reintegrate returnees within their communities and provide them with tangible support to rebuild their lives" said the Ambassador of Italy to Iraq Bruno Antonio Pasquino.

"Thanks to the support from the Italian Cooperation, UNOPS is able to lend a hand to the people returning to Sinjar District in Iraq. Access to water supplies is one of the many challenges faced by returnees and their families. The rehabilitation of basic services in the district will contribute to improving Sinjar water infrastructure and eventually improving people's lives." said Mr. Muhammad Usman Akram, the Director of UNOPS Operational Hub in Amman.

Through this project, the targeted populations will benefit from improved and rehabilitated basic water facilities. UNOPS will focus on the improvement of water services in Sinjar district. The main focus would be to rehabilitate damaged water facilities, such as potable and/or storm water pumps, generators, parts of water treatment units.

The intervention will also include innovative technologies, such as renewable and hybrid systems, where applicable, in target locations. It is envisaged that this project will support the Government in its efforts towards the realization of Agenda 2030 and more specifically contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); specifically, SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being and SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.

Sinjar is one of the four districts in Ninewa that presents a higher severity of needs, whereby the well-being, living standards, and ultimately resilience and recovery capacity of the local communities, as well as their social cohesion and safety, are all severely impacted as a result of unmet needs.

(Source: UN)

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$600m needed for 2021 Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan

On Wednesday, the Iraqi Minister of Planning H.E. Dr. Khalid Batal Najim Abdullah, and the Humanitarian Coordinator Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, released the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to assist 1.5 million vulnerable people in Iraq.

H.E. Dr. Abdullah said:

"The HRP will complement the Government of Iraq's own initiatives to help the people of Iraq recover from the setbacks they have experienced in recent years.

"The Government of Iraq and the United Nations will continue to work in partnership to help all Iraqis achieve and maintain a dignified standard of living."

Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano commented:

"The people of Iraq should be commended for their resilience in the face of relentless hardships. COVID-19 added extra challenges for all of us in 2020.

"We are happy through the 2021 HRP to renew our commitment to assisting the most vulnerable Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees in Iraq."

Iraq continues to face a complex humanitarian situation, despite the ongoing joint efforts of humanitarian partners, the Government of Iraq, and local authorities and communities to improve circumstances.

The post-conflict humanitarian situation in Iraq remains fragile, with approximately 1.3 million IDPs, and deepening socio-economic vulnerabilities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview found that 4.1 million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The 2021 HRP focuses on 1.5 million of the most vulnerable IDPs living in camps and in out-of-camp locations, as well as returnees, who continue to face significant humanitarian and protection needs.

This unified appeal represents the activities of 166 operational partners - national NGOs, international NGOs and UN agencies - involved in the humanitarian response in Iraq, in coordination with the efforts of the Government of Iraq. It seeks $607.2 million to carry out humanitarian programming across nine sectors.

In 2020, the humanitarian community was able to assist approximately 1.4 million people thanks to the efforts of partners and the generosity of donors.

(Source: UN)

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Iraq, Iran to launch Joint Investment Fund

By John Lee.

Iraq and Iran are to launch a fund to finance joint ventures between the two countries.

In his closing remarks to the Iran-Iraq Economic Conference on Wednesday, Iran's Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian said

"The proposal to establish a joint venture fund to support the private sector of the two countries was approved."

The conference also discussed plans to establish a branch of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iraq.

(Source: Iranian Ministry of Energy)

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Weir to Deliver OPITO-Accredited Quals in Iraq

Weir Oil and Gas Approved to Deliver OPITO - Accredited Qualifications in Iraq

Weir Oil & Gas has successfully achieved accreditation from OPITO, the global skills organization for the energy industry, to provide occupational training qualifications from the Weir Oil & Gas Centre of Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence in Southern Iraq.

Weir Oil & Gas is the first training provider in Iraq to receive approval to deliver OPITO-accredited SCQF Level 4 and 5 occupational training qualifications in Basic Maintenance Practices and Maintenance Practices for Instrument, Control, and Mechanical Operations. The local delivery of these training programs will help ensure the availability of an in-country, technically skilled, knowledgeable and safety-conscious workforce.

Over the past three years, Weir Oil & Gas has delivered more than 15,000 combined internal and external training hours, mostly to Iraqi personnel, encompassing classroom-based learning and on-the-job training.

With a constant presence in Iraq since 2014, Weir Oil & Gas has increased its local content through skills development and the structured training of local nationals, focusing on oil and gas services professionals.

The collaboration with OPITO aligns with Weir Oil & Gas' vision to become a leading provider of oil and gas industry training and skills development in the Middle East, through enhancing the delivery of training to local nationals, and supporting skills development projects in Iraq and Oman for a portfolio of companies that includes major global oil companies.

Ronan Le Gloahec, President of Weir Oil & Gas Eastern Hemisphere, said, "Our partnership with OPITO will allow us to provide unparalleled local content and training for oil and gas personnel in Iraq, creating a solid and necessary foundation for companies operating in the region to flourish."

Richard Roberts, Regional Vice-President, MEA of OPITO, said, "Iraq's success as an oil and gas producer will, in part, be reliant on its ability to build a strong local talent pool through ensuring the availability of vocational technical skills in-country that are commensurate with international benchmarks. Our collaboration with Weir Oil & Gas is an important step forward in ensuring the delivery of accredited training programs in Iraq and the Middle East and will help safeguard the continued development of a competent energy sector workforce."

(Source: Weir)

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Germany supporting Vulnerable Children in Iraq

UNICEF receives 26 million from Germany to support national systems and ensure vulnerable children in Iraq receive quality basic and social protection services in Iraq

The German Government, through its Development Bank, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), has contributed 26 million Euros to UNICEF in order to help the agency in its ongoing efforts to assist the Government of Iraq in strengthening its systems and improve access to quality basic services and social protection for children and their families.

This latest amount brings the German Government's total contributions to UNICEF Iraq to a total of 159 million Euros since 2015.

Vulnerable children and their families in Iraq are disproportionately affected by the lack of safe water, education, and social protection. The needs of the poorest have become even more acute as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its secondary impacts, such as disruption in schools and health services, and rights violations, as well as rising poverty, all diminish the chance of vulnerable children to realize their basic rights to survive, be protected, and continue learning.

In light of the scale of the pandemic's effect particularly on children and their families, the German Government has reserved 6 million Euros exclusively for measures addressing COVID-19 related activities such as the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC).

"This funding has come in at a critical time, when we should be doing all that we can to limit the effects of the pandemic on all children, especially the most vulnerable. Thanks to our German partner, we are able to scale up our efforts to support the Government of Iraq to strengthen national systems' ability to respond and provide better quality and coordination of the basic services that it provides, public social protection for children and their families, and help to train educators, counsellors and other professionals working with children," explained Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.

For his part, the German Ambassador to Iraq, His Excellency Dr Ole Diehl (pictured), emphasized that the international community can only win the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic by working together.

"Germany continues to support Iraq in its fight against COVID-19. This is why we have launched an extensive global COVID emergency program, under which also a sizeable COVID-19 response window is allocated for Iraq and our contribution assigned to this program respectively. Good health and sanitary infrastructure are paramount to contain the virus. More importantly, every one of us needs to take part in the fight against Corona by wearing masks, keeping up social distancing and observing rules of basic hygiene."

Since the pandemic broke, the number of children and adolescents who risk falling into poverty has doubled, from one out of five children and adolescents to over 2 out of every 5. Children and adolescents, who make-up more than half of the population in the country, 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.

"Investing in one's children is the best investment any nation can make. The Iraqi government needs our support to further develop its technical capacities, strengthen its systems, and deliver for its children. We are especially appreciative of the support of our German partner at this critical time when we are working with the Government to enhance its ability and systems to deliver better education, health services, water, sanitation and protection for every boy and girl in Iraq," added Ms. Lasseko.

There are 1.77 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and another 1.5 million who remain displaced and therefore exposed to higher risks of deprivation, violence and exploitation. The project which will be rolled out over 18 months, will target such populations.

The project focuses on long-term sustainability by strengthening national systems and capacities to provide integrated access to safe water, education and health services, protection, and social assistance, with the goal of enabling children to overcome poverty, practice their rights and fulfil their potential.

It will be implemented at the Federal level and in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in partnership with the Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs, the Education, the Directorates of Education at sub-national levels, and national and international Civil Society Organisations.

(Source: UN)

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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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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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