Construction & Engineering In Iraq


Norway Renews Commitment to Stabilization in Iraq

The Government of Norway is supporting the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with an additional NOK 25 million (approximately USD 3 million) for stabilization in Iraq, bringing Norway’s total contribution since 2015 to USD 36 million, the seventh largest donor to FFS.

The fund will be directed towards UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) which finances fast-track initiatives to stabilize areas liberated after the fall of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

Acting UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Mr Gerardo Noto, said:

“Although much progress has been made, we still have a long way to go in stabilizing parts of Iraq devastated by ISIL. At this stage, more than 4 million people have returned to their homes. This is good news, but a lot more needs to be done, particularly in areas like western Mosul and the Ninewah Plains. Norway’s contribution will help us to accelerate our work in these areas, and we are very grateful for this support.”

The Norwegian Ambassador to Iraq and Jordan, H.E. Mrs. Tone Allers, added:

“As Iraq is entering a new phase, Norway remains committed to support the efforts to ensure long-term stability and growth for all Iraqi citizens. Since the initiation of UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization, we have seen that the projects are yielding results on the ground, rehabilitating important infrastructure and restoring basic services in Iraqi towns and cities affected by ISIL’s takeover. With this additional contribution to FFS, we hope to contribute to improving conditions for the safe return of the more than 300,000 families still displaced from their homes.”


(Source: UNDP)

Cash-for-Work Project in Halabja

Cash-for-Work project in Halabja paves a safer and easier road to school for local children

42 host community members, IDPs and refugees employed to restore roads and walkways that will enable safe access to schools and markets for families in Halabja.

To neighbours in the communities of Azadi and Sirwan, in northern Iraq, paved roads mean much more than improved accessibility for cars. Once loose dust and rock, the road network connecting homes and markets posed a hazard for children during the regions season of heavy rainfall.

“They had to put those plastic bags and boots which was especially difficult for the kids to go to school,” described 15-year-old Shahad, an IDP from Baghdad.

“Especially in this area in winter we have a high rate of rainfall. And the land here was agricultural land before – so when it rains, it becomes mud, also posing health-hazards for pedestrians,” added Mr. Omed Noori Hama-Salih, Supervising Engineer, Municipality of Sirwan Subdistrict.

UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) recently supported a project that would enable the Governorate of Halabja to restore this essential basic service.

Following the launch in September, 42 individuals (host community members, internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees) received temporary employment opportunities to work on the project as engineers, labourers and administrative support.

This project is one of 28 that were made possible with generous funding from the Federal Government of Germany, supporting the construction and restoration of critical services such as sewerage, electricity, water and roads for some 680,000 people across the Sulaimaniyah & Halabja Governorates and Raparin & Garmiyan Administrations, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

In Azadi and Sirwan, IDPs, refugees and host community members are working together to improve the road and walkway networks for the benefit of all 1,500 community members. “In the past years, this was muddy and all children could not go to school easily and people could not go to do their services and visit market, but now when it will be paved of course it will ease our lives,” said Mr. Othman Aziz, a resident since 1978. “We consider that we will be having a new life because then our kids can go to school easily and our families will have an easy and nice access road to go and run their daily lives.”

Since 2014, Halabja Governorate has become host to more than 653 refugees and 7,177 IDPs, leaving their homes to find safety and security. Today, the pressure to ensure the provision of basic infrastructure and services is intensified by severe financial crisis, ultimately affecting the quality of life in the region for the host communities, as well as the IDPs and refugees they host.

In Azadi and Sirwan, IDPs, refugees and host community members are working together to improve the road and walkway networks for the benefit of all 1,500 community members. “In the past years, this was muddy and all children could not go to school easily and people could not go to do their services and visit market, but now when it will be paved of course it will ease our lives,” said Mr. Othman Aziz, a resident since 1978.

“We consider that we will be having a new life because then our kids can go to school easily and our families will have an easy and nice access road to go and run their daily lives.”

Since 2014, Halabja Governorate has become host to more than 653 refugees and 7,177 IDPs, leaving their homes to find safety and security. Today, the pressure to ensure the provision of basic infrastructure and services is intensified by severe financial crisis, ultimately affecting the quality of life in the region for the host communities, as well as the IDPs and refugees they host.

(Source: UNDP)

Iran proceeds with Rail Link to Syria via Iraq

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

As the United States enacts sanctions on Iran, Iran is increasing its influence in Iraq with plans for a railway that could work around US restrictions.

The state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) revealed details Nov. 12 about its project to build a railway connecting Iran’s Shalamcheh border crossing to the port of Basra in southeast Iraq.

Maziar Yazdani, RAI’s deputy head of infrastructure and technical affairs, said the Shalamcheh-Basra leg of the project will require only 20 miles of new track at a cost of about $52,000. With the new addition, the rail system will span Iraq to reach Syria’s Mediterranean port city of Latakia.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture Credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

France gives EUR 500k for Sustainable Livelihood

The Government of France has contributed US$568,690 (€500,000) to UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) to promote recovery and resilience-building in areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The funding will help improve access to income-generating opportunities for 200 vulnerable returnees in Sinjar and Hamdaniya – where returnee numbers are high – through small business grants and saving schemes, as well as professional training programmes.

In an effort to ensure sustainability, the contribution also bolsters ICRRP’s work with national chambers of commerce to build their capacities to respond to future crises.

During a signature ceremony to launch the new project, the French Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Bruno Aubert welcomed Ambassador Eric Chevallier, Director of CDCS (Centre de crise et de soutien) in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who highlighted that:

“this project is well aligned with both French and Iraqi priorities for stabilization. Targeting the improvement of the conditions for the safe return of IDPs in areas strongly affected by ISIL occupation, the provision of immediate livelihood and employment opportunities – in particular for youth and women – is a key step toward more resiliency and sustainability for these communities.”

Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Ms. Marta Ruedas, added,

“UNDP will support the financial empowerment of individuals to help alleviate the pressure on public finance, whilst at the same time creating a diverse business environment that will enable long-term economic growth.”

Many areas of Ninewa have experienced extensive damage to public and private infrastructure and with the effects of long-term displacement are now experiencing a lack of diverse livelihood opportunities, often exacerbated by prevailing security threats.

ICRRP is part of the  Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP) that was launched at the  Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq earlier this year. In this context, the Government of France support will contribute to the RRP results area of expanding livelihoods opportunities in Iraq.

UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) promotes the recovery and resilience of communities vulnerable to multi-dimensional shocks associated with large-scale returns and protracted displacement of Iraqis and Syrian refugees.

This is achieved through medium-term programming, integrating crisis management capacity building, rehabilitating basic service infrastructure, livelihood recovery and social cohesion.

(Source: UNDP)

Iraq sees Lowest Casualty Rate in 6 Years

A total of 41 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 73 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in November 2018*, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The figures include ordinary citizens and others considered civilians at the time of death or injury, such as police in non-combat functions, civil defence, personal security teams, facilities protection police and fire department personnel.

The Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ján Kubiš, said the continuing loss of life is regrettable but the latest figures are the lowest since UNAMI began publishing them in November 2012.

“These are not just figures. They are human beings with families. But these figures, sad as they are, also reflect the continuing downward trend in the level of violence as the country recovers from its fight with terrorism and presses ahead towards a stable, prosperous future,” the Special Representative said.

Baghdad was the most affected Governorate, with 55 civilian casualties (23 killed, 32 injured), followed by Ninewa (08 killed and 19 injured) and Anbar (04 killed and 15 injured).

*CAVEATS: UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in certain areas; in some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate are provided by the Health Directorate and are noted above. Casualty figures obtained from the Anbar Health Directorate might not fully reflect the real number of casualties in those areas due to the increased volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum.

(Source: United Nations)

How Saudi and Qatar are Competing over Iraq

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

As the Gulf crisis continues with the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with no sign of a resolution, each country deems it necessary to seek a rapprochement with Iraq and win the country over to its own economic and political camps.

Each is trying to have Baghdad align with its axis, while Baghdad affirms its need for help from both countries to get rid of the destruction left by the Islamic State (IS) in the Sunni areas.

A Qatari delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Nov. 7, where he met with the Iraqi president, prime minister and parliament speaker to “discuss the ties between the two countries.”

Click here to read the full story.

IOM Responds to Flooding in Iraq

Large-scale flooding beginning on the morning of Friday (23/11) has wreaked havoc across Iraq, killing several people and causing widespread damage to homes, infrastructure and agriculture, and worsening the living conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

In Ninewa governorate, Qayarrah Airstrip and Jeddah IDP camps were particularly affected by the flooding. Among the approximately 7,500 families residing in Qayarrah Airstrip Camp, 2,392 tents were completely flooded forcing hundreds of households to take refuge in the IOM health clinic and other communal areas.

The health clinic in Qayarrah Airstrip Camp hosted nearly 300 individuals, providing IDPs with dry blankets, heaters and emergency health care services. The IOM ambulance transported ten individuals in need of medical assistance but unable to reach the clinic.

“We haven’t been able to sleep at all because we don’t have a dry spot to sit. The water level was knee-deep inside our tent. Now all of our belongings, everything we desperately need this winter, have been ruined by the mud left after the flood.

“We had to put our children on the roof of the communal kitchen to get them out of the mud. Even the food and grains we had stored are drenched. We are in desperate need of dry clothes, mattresses, blankets, fuel and food,” said Kamel Hussein, a resident of Qayarrah Airstrip Camp.

Within hours of the flooding, IOM immediately deployed its Rapid Assessment and Response Team and assessed the damage and needs in the camps. The Organization employed over 600 camp residents to clear the drainage channels, ensuring the flow of water out of the camp, and to repair the damaged road to restore access to camps, thereby allowing humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable displaced persons.

IOM, in coordination with camp management entities, Representative for Ninewa Voluntary Displaced Organization (RNVDO) and Danish Refugee Council (DRC), immediately began distributing hundreds of kits to the most affected families.

Since Friday, more than 3,150 basic non-food item kits have been delivered to households in Qayarrah Airstrip and Jeddah consisting of mattresses, bedsheets, plastic sheeting, a solar lamp, rechargeable light, gas cooker, jerry can and kitchen set. Support for the kits was provided by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Government of Germany.

“The rain and subsequent flooding experienced throughout Iraq over the past weekend has worsened the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations, including displaced households residing in camps. The flooding has highlighted the importance of humanitarian actors maintaining operational capacity in Iraq to scale up emergency assistance in the event of disaster,” said Gerard Waite, Chief of Mission of IOM Iraq.

With more rain expected over the coming days, IOM remains ready to respond to the arising needs and will continue to work closely with the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement and other humanitarian partners to ensure a timely and effective response to those most affected.

(Source: IOM)

EU adopts €56m Reconstruction Package for Iraq

The European Union has adopted today a €56.5 million package to promote sustainable job creation and strengthen support to refugees, internally displaced populations and their host communities in Iraq.

This brings the total EU development assistance mobilised in favour of Iraq in 2018 to €129 million and it is part of the €400 million pledged by the EU at the Iraq Reconstruction Conference held in Kuwait in February 2018.

Iraq is facing enormous challenges to rebuild the areas affected by the conflict and assist people in need. The purpose of the programme adopted today is to contribute to the development of the urban areas of Mosul and Basra, and of the rural areas of Nineveh governorate.

This will help returning displaced populations, vulnerable youth and women find income opportunities and obtain services to respond to their essential needs. The assistance will also be used to promote youth entrepreneurship notably via start-up services. By supporting sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Iraq, the help is delivering also on the Sustainable Development Goals and the priorities of the Government of Iraq.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said:

“The EU is delivering on its commitments made last February at the Iraq Reconstruction Conference in Kuwait. This new support will create opportunities and jobs, helping some of the most vulnerable communities to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.”

The measure adopted today also includes a €15 million contribution to the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the central aim of which is to provide a coherent and swift response to the needs arising from the massive displacement and returns caused by both the Syrian and the internal Iraqi crises.

This action aims to enhance public service delivery in sectors like education and health. It will enhance access to livelihood opportunities for refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and their communities. It will also uphold the long-standing Iraqi policy of protection and support of people residing and seeking protection in the country.

Today’s measure complements the €72.5 million package adopted last October to foster stabilisation and socio-economic development through support to basic service delivery and improved living conditions in conflict areas. This package included measures to reactivate economic activity and entrepreneurship, assistance to facilitate the clearance of lands previously contaminated by explosives, and support to reforms in the energy sector.

These measures are in line with the 2018 EU strategy for Iraq and the Council Conclusions of 19 May 2017 on Iraq as a pilot country for implementing the Humanitarian-Development Nexus, and reaffirm the EU commitments as stated during the Kuwait Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq. The total EU development assistance to Iraq amounts to €309.8 million since the beginning of the crisis.

(Source: EU)

(Picture: Realistic wavy flag of European Union, from NiglayNik/Shutterstock)

Iraq to remove Impediments to Infrastructure Investment

By John Lee.

Iraqi President Barham Salih has told an international conference in Rome that Iraq will remove any impediments to Iraqi and foreign private sector companies, as well as international financial institutions, donor countries and sovereign wealth funds, to invest in major infrastructure projects in the country.

He added that these projects may include deep port facilities in Basra, a highway network, new railways, airports, industrial cities and dams, and irrigation projects in the Nineveh Plain, Garamian, Erbil, as well as land reclamation in the south.

 

The following is the full text of the speech delivered by His Excellency President Barham Salih at the Conference of the Mediterranean Dialogues on Thursday afternoon, November 22, 2018:

Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,

First of all, I’d like to thank the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ISPI for organizing this conference and the opportunity to address this distinguished audience. I also want to thank His Excellency President Sergio Mattarella and His Excellency Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for their kind invitation to Italy.

Many may say there is nothing unique about the present day Middle East — we are living through yet another phase of conflict— as we have been plagued by conflict and powers struggles for much of our contemporary history.

However, the military defeat of DAESH and the formation of a new government in Baghdad may well represent a turning point not only for Iraq, but also potentially for the wider Middle East. Iraq has been the epicenter for change in Middle East- for millennia, Iraq has often been the catalyst, the precursor regional order— or disorder!

I dare say that there is now an opportunity to reorient Iraq’s trajectory and propel the country towards prosperity and stability. This will require embarking on fundamental internal reforms, both political and economic.

As such, Iraq is in need of an internal dialogue to address the underlying structural flaws at the crux of the post-2003 political order. Iraqis are indignant at years of conflict and the failure to deliver services. Restoring basic services like water and electricity, reconstruction of the devastated communities by the war with DAESH and repatriation of our IDPs to their homes is an urgent challenge. Corruption and abuse of public funds undermine the viability of the Iraqi state and sustains the cycle of conflict and terrorism. It is imperative to dry up the swamp of corruption.

The defeat of ISIS was undeniably a monumental challenge and impressive success for Iraqi armed forces— the Army, Police, Hashd Al Shabi mobilized by the fatwa of Ayatollah Sistani and Peshmerga forces fought side by side and have become battle hardened. In this context, we are grateful for the help rendered by our allies in the international coalition, led by the United States and which comprised many nations including our generous host Italy. The task ahead is to enhance our defense and intelligence capabilities, integrate our armed forces within the framework of our national defense institution and affirming accountability of all armed forces to the state.

There remain issues of contention between the Kurdistan Region and federal government— time to resolve these issues in a fundamental way through adhering to the constitution. There is renewed hope as the our new PM Dr Adil Abdul Mahdi and the Kurdistan leadership have pledged to move on to resolve these outstanding issues. The recent agreement to resume oil exports from Kirkuk to Ceyhan is a welcomed gesture in this context.

However, ending the crises that plague Iraq also require a reconstruction of the current political order to restore citizen trust in the government. A reformed political order must be based on the protecting constitution, the civil state that strengthens civic values, supports the role of women and their rights, and ensures a commitment to human rights.

A most important and consequential challenge for Iraq today is economic reform and regeneration. Iraq is endowed with immense natural resources, water and fertile land— and an indispensable geopolitical position that can become the hub for regional trade and economic integration. Yet decades of war, sanctions, conflicts, economic mismanagement and corruption have tuned Iraq into an extreme rentier state. This is unsustainable— we are today a 38 million population, and increasing at a rate of one million each year— youth unemployment is rampant— this is a profound security, social and development challenge.

The new government, led by Adil Abdul Mahdi, a pragmatic reformer and economist, is pursuing an ambitious economic restructuring agenda based on empowering the private sector and promoting investment. The unity of Iraq and its security is crucially dependent on strengthening infrastructure links within Iraq and with the neighborhood. This is imperative to bind the country together and to promote common interests with the neighbors and to ensure job opportunities for our youth.

Iraq will be eliminating impediments to Iraqi and foreign private sector companies, as well as international financial institutions, donor countries and sovereign wealth to invest in major infrastructure projects. These projects may include deep port facilities in Basra, a highway network, new railways, airports, industrial cities and dams, and irrigation projects in the Nineveh Plain, Garamian, Erbil, as well as land reclamation in the south. Similar experiences can be seen in Thailand, Vietnam and India, which attracted investment funding from sovereign wealth funds in Japan, China and the Gulf.

In addition to local economic growth, these projects could also contribute to regional economic prosperity. Iraq is an important strategic hub that joins the Arab world with Iran and Turkey and connects the economies of the Gulf and Europe. These could connect the countries of the region so that Iraq could become the heart of a new Silk Road to the Mediterranean.

But for Iraq to succeed and stabilize, it requires a regional order that can embrace and nurture its stability. Iraq has been the domain for regional power struggles— the rivalry over Iraq, and within Iraq, among regional and global actors have sustained and deepened Iraqi crisis. For the last forty years, Iraq has been moving from a war to a war, sanctions and terrorist onslaught and condemned to en ever deepening cycle of crises. This is got to end. It is time Iraq’s stability and prosperity is turned into a common intertest in the neighborhood. Iraq is an important country in the Arab world— This Arab anchor for Iraq is vital economically and politically, and we are emphatic about fully developing our relations with our Arab and Gulf neighbors. Our relations with Iran is also important, we share a border of 1400 km, and much social and cultural bonds — and it is in our national interest to promote good relations with Iran and alike with our northern neighbor, Turkey, which is undeniably an important economic geopolitical actor.

I just come back from a tour to our neighbors in Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Iran and Saudi Arabia— our message was that Iraq is adamant to protect its independence and sovereignty— our priority is economic regeneration and jobs for our youth— and that we want Iraq’s stability, sovereignty and prosperity to be shared interests for the neighborhood. I made the point that Iraq’s prospects for success is real, but remains precarious, so it should NOT be burdened with further tensions and escalations in the neighborhood. The Middle East needs a regional order based on shared security interests in the face of violent extremists and also rooted in economic collaboration and integration. As in the past, sovereign Iraq with its geopolitical, cultural and economic relevance can be a catalyst for such an order.

I am sure many of you will consider this as too ambitious— perhaps mere wishful thinking. Europe did it after two devastating World Wars— many other regions of the world have moved away from decades of conflict. We must pursue this agenda for our region with vigor and determination— it is primarily our responsibility in the region— and our people deserve better. However, legions of unemployed youth, millions of IDPs in camps— poverty and conflict are the incubators for terrorism, extremism and yes immigrants fleeing our fertile an rich lands to come to the shores of Europe— this should also be shared global interest— certainly a European interest.

This conference theme is about youth and women empowerment. The agenda of reform in Iraq, and the vision for a durable regional order in the Middle East, is what will defeat violent extremism through providing education, meaningful job opportunities for our youth and prioritizing human development as a core aim for our governments and for the global powers.

Thank you.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)

Exploring Ways to Assist in Restoration in Kirkuk

The Qishla and Citadel of Kirkuk, two cultural heritage sites symbolising the area’s rich multicultural history but buffeted by time and conflicts, are in desperate need of restoration to preserve them for future generations.

In line with UN support for the country’s diversity and preservation of its historical sites as symbols that boost reconciliation and coexistence, the Deputy Special Representative for Iraq of the UN Secretary-General, Ms. Alice Walpole, led a team from the UN family in Iraq comprising UNESCO, UNAMI and UN Development Coordination Office on visits to the sites on 05 November 2018 to assess the structures and explore ways to assist in the restoration work.

Built in 1863 as the winter headquarters for the Ottoman Army garrison, the Qishla is in a state of near collapse today, leading to serious concerns that if not stabilized the remaining structure could soon fall down. The Citadel is the oldest part of Kirkuk, built in 884 BC as a defensive wall 18 metres high. Later, towers were added and the Citadel evolved as the heart of the city, with a 1,000-year old minaret and the Red Church.

Dr. Iyad Tariq, Director of the Department for Antiquities and Heritage in Kirkuk, grew up on the Citadel. Dr. Tariq remembers how when he was a young boy the Citadel was the center of town. It was home to 850 families, a school, two mosques, minarets, a church, monuments, restaurants, cafes, recreational areas and a bustling market. With support from UNESCO and the international community, the Citadel can be restored to its former glory, Dr. Tariq said.

The Head of the UN Development Coordination Office in Kirkuk, Mr. Martijn Dalhuijsen, says that the Citadel exemplifies the multi-cultural society of Kirkuk. The citadel contains Arabic, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Kurdish, Seljuk, Turkish and Turkmen moments.

Just like the Forum in Rome, it would be a valuable symbol of reconciliation and recovery to restore in the heart of the diverse City of Kirkuk. Restoration would also create many new job opportunities for artisans and craftsmen, construction workers, while boosting tourism, religious pilgrimage, and instill a sense of pride for Kirkukis after the liberation of parts of the Governorate from Da’esh terrorists.

Prior to visiting the sites, meetings were held between Giovanni Fontana, an architect from UNESCO who specializes in historic preservation, and Sami Al-Khoja, a Cultural Programme Officer who worked on the restoration of the Citadel in Erbil. Supporting the assessment visit were H.E. Mr. Rakan Al-Jabouri, Acting Governor of Kirkuk, Dr. Tariq of the Department of Culture, and Colonel Wisam Abdullah of the Kirkuk Antiquities Police.

(Source: UN)