$100m to Support COVID-19 Vaccination in Iraq

By John Lee.

The World Bank has approved a new US$100 million project to scale up Iraq's health sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iraq COVID-19 Vaccination Project will support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations to priority population groups and strengthen the institutional systems needed to enable the safe and effective distribution and use of COVID-19 vaccine at scale.

It aims to help the country procure COVID-19 vaccines, improve its capacity to manage health care waste, and raise public awareness on the importance of vaccination against the virus.

The project builds on existing support the World Bank and other development partners have given the Government of Iraq for its COVID-19 response under the Iraq Recovery, Reform, and Reconstruction Fund (I3RF) and the Emergency Operation for Development Project.

Iraq has been one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, recording almost 2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 21,000 deaths to date.

The government began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in March 2021 and has been able to increase coverage rapidly in the past month. More than 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with about 11% of the population having received the first dose and 7% fully immunized with two doses.

A comprehensive, well-coordinated vaccination campaign is key to a country's future recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its economy and public health. The new project will play a critical role in ensuring affordable, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in Iraq, extending coverage to 3 million of the country's population.

"Improved access to vaccination is needed to limit the spread of the disease and lessen the burden on the already weak health system in Iraq," said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. "The new project will support Iraq in its acquisition and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, which are essential to protect lives, enable the country to reopen safely, and kickstart economic recovery."

The Iraq COVID-19 Vaccination Project falls under the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Program (SPRP), using a Multiphase Programmatic Approach (MPA) that was approved by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors in April 2020, as well as additional financing agreed to last October. It includes a I3RF grant for vaccine delivery.

The I3RF was founded in partnership with the Government of Iraq in 2018 and is funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Sweden. It provides a platform both for financing and strategic dialogue for development and reconstruction, with a strong focus on targeted national reforms and public and private investment in socio-economic recovery and reconstruction. The fund seeks to be a strategic platform for development coordination and dialogue, and it aims to support the climate change agenda of the country, gender equality, peace building, and citizen engagement.

World Bank financing will complement activities conducted by other development partners, filling in critical gaps to ensure the deployment of vaccine is successful. The World Bank is committed to continue supporting Iraq's efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the resilience of its health system to future shocks.

(Source: World Bank)

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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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Make a Difference for Iraqi Kids Today!

Dear ICF friends,

FIVE DAYS TO GO!

Our annual "In Their Shoes" 5K race weekend in Washington DC draws dignitaries, diplomats, veterans and business-people, families, and the media. This year we are going GLOBAL!

Run or walk from anywhere in the world, this September 18th. Create a team or set a personal challenge, and help us raise urgently-needed funds for Iraq's vulnerable children. You'll receive a limited edition ICF running gaiter (buff) and a digital certificate. So far, we have participants in 38 cities - will you help us make it 50??

Get ready. Join Us! Sign up now or forward this email to friends and family:

How it works:

  1. Sign up online via the RunSignup platform (link via button above), and create a fundraising page if desired.
  2. Run or walk on September 18th from anywhere in the world.
  3. Finishers receive a digital certificate and a custom ICF running buff (neck gaiter).

Share the registration list: https://runsignup.com/Race/DC/WashingtonDC/2021GLOBALINTHEIRSHOES5K

The symbolism of the ICF design is very special: sunshine symbolizing hope, growth reflected in the date palm leaf and fruit of Iraq, and water marking the Euphrates and Tigris rivers which represent the historic position of Iraq as the seat of civilization. Collect this year's limited edition orange gaiter!

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AA to distribute Laboratoires Gilbert in Iraq

Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) member AA for Global Trading and Commercial Agencies has announced that it has started importing the products of Laboratoires Gilbert of France to Iraq, as per an agreement signed in 2020.

Based in France's Normandy region, Laboratoires Gilbert manufactures and markets 30 brands and 1,900 references such as Physiodose, Physiolac, Dolodent, Luc and Léa, Comptoir Aroma, Algotherm, Laino, Hei Poa, and Comptoir du Bain among others.

Currently, AA is the commercial agent of several brands including Metrex Research (USA), Laboratoires Gilbert (France) and Palmer's (USA).

(Source: IBBC)

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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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Pressure to Open Borders for Pilgrims despite Pandemic

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

Iraq under pressure to open borders for Shiite pilgrims despite pandemic

While the Iraqi government attempts to prevent the spread of the delta variant from Iran, there is internal and external pressure to open its borders for Shiite pilgrims to visit the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

Click here to read the full article.

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Young Female Entrepreneur strives to Transform Medical Sector

From the International Labour Organization (ILO). Re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

Young female entrepreneur strives to transform the medical sector in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Twenty-five-year-old Nasreen Hassan has been working for years on a business idea that will help hospitals and medical centres in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq improve and maintain their medical equipment.

Having witnessed years of conflict, Nasreen says that she wants to do her part in saving and improving the lives of women, men and children, especially in light of the current worldwide pandemic. "The number of weapons and rockets outnumber medical equipment," said Nasreen. "And I want to correct this."

"Just think about what will make the world better, not only for you, but for everyone around you," said Nasreen. "For me, I want to produce, install and provide maintenance for medical machinery locally. This will help create jobs for young people and open new opportunities for many."

"But most importantly, it will save and improve lives."

Unable to pursue a degree in medical engineering, the IT graduate recently joined the ILO's Start Your Business (SYB) training programme in Iraq, aimed at giving her the knowledge and tools needed to set up her business.

Start Your Business is part of the wider Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB)  training package designed to respond to the progressive stages of business development. The training in Iraq aims to support young refugees, internally displaced people, and vulnerable host community members who are interested in setting up their own small businesses or improving existing ones.

Nasreen and 140 other potential entrepreneurs joined a six-day intensive training in Dohuk in July 2021, that centred on nine courses designed to enhance their readiness to start a business, prepare their business plan and evaluate its viability .

"The most beneficial part of the training was the business plan, even though I already had some knowledge on the subject, but not in such detail or depth," said Nasreen. "From the first day of the training with the ILO, I have been working on my business plan, one step at a time. I have been revising it and adding new ideas on the way, because the more we moved forward with the training, the more our ideas expanded, reflecting the reality more and more."

The training is part of efforts being implemented by the ILO under the "Partnership for improving prospects for forcibly displaced persons and host communities," also known as PROSPECTS , a multi-agency programme supported by the Government of the Netherlands.

For the ILO one of the key areas of focus of PROSPECTS in Iraq is to support youth to transition from learning and skills development to decent work, through a range of wage employment and self-employment interventions, in collaboration with other PROSPECTS partners, including UNICEF.

This includes training trainers from different organizations  on ILO's training package, including banks and microfinance institutions, trainers from UNICEF-supported youth centres, and local NGOs supporting Small and Medium Enterprises. It also involves referring youth (including Nasreen who recently received life skills training through ACTED at a UNICEF-supported youth centre) to the ILO for further support.

The programme will also link some of the trained youth with access to affordable financial services, to help them start up their businesses and establish a decent livelihood. This is part of an initiative implemented in partnership with the Central Bank of Iraq  that was launched in March 2021.

For Nasreen, there are many hurdles to overcome and training opportunities to pursue. Yet despite the long journey ahead, she is determined to see her business plan come to life.

"I need financial support and I need more training, which will help me reach a stage where I have the technical know-how on establishing my business, even if it takes twenty years," said Nasreen. "I would like to say to other young people in my position that they should also pursue their goals; whether in terms of studying or employment. Don't let anything get in your way."

PROSPECTS is a strategic four-year global partnership that supports host communities and displaced populations in eight countries across East and North Africa and the Arab States and which also includes the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank (WB) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Video: COVID and Security Concerns over Ashura in Iraq

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Preparations are under way in Karbala to mark Ashoura, a Shia Muslim commemoration.

People have started heading to the city despite concerns about security and COVID-19.

Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed reports from Karbala:

The post Video: COVID and Security Concerns over Ashura in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.

US Donates COVID-19 Vaccines to Iraq

The United States Donates More Than 500,000 COVID-19 Vaccines to Iraq

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew H. Tueller joined Iraqi Acting Minister of Health Hani al-Oqabi and other partners to receive the delivery of more than 500,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the Iraqi Ministry of Health as part of the ongoing partnership of the United States with the people of Iraq.

The vaccines were delivered via COVAX in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The United States provided these 503,100 vaccine doses free of charge to Iraq in reflection of our commitment to our shared fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  This commitment was one of several made during the most recent session of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, held in Washington, D.C., July 23-26.

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided more than $60 million to Iraq to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The United States is proud to partner with the Iraqi people to help save lives and defeat COVID-19.  Together, we will continue to build a world that is safer and more secure against the threat of infectious disease," said Ambassador Tueller.

This delivery of vaccines helps fulfill the White House global vaccine sharing allocation plan, announced on June 3, 2021, that prioritized an allotment for Iraq.

As President Biden promised, the United States is sharing vaccines with Iraq and many other countries to save lives and lead the world in ending the pandemic.

These safe and effective vaccines are key to protecting Iraqi lives and boosting Iraqi economic recovery.

(Source: US Embassy)

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EU contributes EUR1.3m for emergency Reproductive Health in Iraq

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) received EUR 1.3 million euros from the European Union (EU) towards supporting emergency reproductive health services in hard-to-reach and secondary displacement areas in Iraq.

Women and girls of reproductive age, including women with disabilities, in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Salahuddin governorates will benefit from the reproductive health services provided by UNFPA, such as gynaecological consultations, Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC), family planning, maternal health and clinical management of rape.

"The need for health services in the country have increased due to the ongoing movement of population and the pandemic, especially for woman and girls. This contribution is crucial. It provides life-saving reproductive health services to conflict-affected women in more than one governorate in Iraq," said Christophe Reltien, the EU Humanitarian Aid Head of Office in Iraq.

UNFPA Representative, Dr Rita Columbia, expressed her appreciation for the recent contribution: "We are extremely grateful for this renewed contribution from the EU. Women and girls in Iraq continue to face many challenges especially in terms of access to reproductive health services. The new funding will allow us to reach the most vulnerable communities in the rural areas and displaced communities, despite the exacerbated humanitarian crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

The EU is a long-standing partner of UNFPA in Iraq and a strong advocate for the reproductive health and rights of women and girls. Since 2015, the EU has contributed EUR 19.7 million in support of UNFPA's humanitarian interventions in camps and host communities and secondary displacement areas in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

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