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Emirates Steel eyes Expansion into Iraq

By John Lee.

Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Steel is reportedly considering expansion into Iraq.

Chief Executive Saeed Al Remeithi told The National:

We’re always looking at new markets, one of which we are targeting now is Iraq …

“Iraq is a big growth market for us, and from the logistics point of view it is very big. We have seen right now Iraq is more stabilised than in the past few years and we have already started on the market.

The company, which is part of Senaat, is currently in the middle of a refinancing programme.

More here.

(Source: The National)

Upgrading al-Karamah Border Crossing with Jordan

IOM and UNODC Sign Agreement with the Government of Jordan to Upgrade al-Karamah Border Crossing Point

In partnership with the Government of Jordan, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed an official partnership yesterday (10/12) to upgrade the al-Karamah border crossing point between Iraq and Jordan.

The project, funded by the European Union Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (EU IcSP), also contributes to the stability and economic recovery in the region.

“Iraq has always been a key economic partner for Jordan and a significant market for Jordanian exports. The closure of al-Karamah border point over the past years has had a significant negative impact on Jordan’s manufacturing sector and on the Jordanian economy in general. The government is working tirelessly to restore the economic ties with this important country for the benefit of the two sides, and we hope that the rehabilitation of al-Karamah will constitute another building block in this effort,” said Dr Maria Kawar, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Al-Karamah is the only official border crossing point between Iraq and Jordan. Closed in the summer of 2015, it reopened in August 2017 raising the prospect of an improved economy among traders and consumers. Long-lasting crises in Syria and Iraq forced the closure of the land borders with both neighbors, namely the direct route between the ports of Aqaba, on the Red Sea, and Basra, on the Arabian Gulf.

Before the closure of the borders, Iraq was one of the main trade partners of Jordan. In 2013, 178,573 commercial trucks used al-Karamah to enter Iraq from Jordan, and 173,788 entered Jordan from Iraq. Border closures considerably increased the price of imports and exports.

“Border crossing points facilitate trade and exchange between people and communities. This EU-funded project will share the EU approach on integrated border management and adapt it to the situation at the Jordan/Iraq border with a view to facilitate bilateral trade and the movement of people,” said Mr Andrea Matteo Fontana, European Union Ambassador to Jordan.

The project will allow for the construction of a joint building for all departments operating at al-Karamah that will ease procedures and shorten the waiting time for passengers, allowing authorities to process a higher number of passengers per day.

The security of the passengers and the Kingdom will continue to be at the centre of the operation, with enhanced trainings on document forgery detection and other techniques related to border management.

Communities at both sides of the border will benefit from the improved border crossing point.

“I am from al-Anbar and I study pharmacy in Amman. I used to pay around 200 dollars to fly to Baghdad, and then I had to take a bus to al-Anbar from the capital. With the border post re-opened, I save money and time, and I can come home more often,” one young student told IOM staff.

“Communities in remote border regions need additional support to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges associated to a border context. The project will contribute to revitalize the economy of Mafraq and al-Anbar regions that used to rely on the livelihoods directly or indirectly created by the movements through the border post, before its closure,” said Enrico Ponziani, Chief of Mission of IOM Jordan.

The project will also improve cargo control procedures to secure and facilitate trade with the extension of the UNODC/World Customs Organization Container Control Programme at the al-Karamah border crossing point, and the establishment of a Border Control Unit.

“UNODC’s contribution to this project is two-pronged. Firstly, it aims at further securing the Al Karamah-Turaibil border crossing by strengthening the capacity of Jordanian and Iraqi law enforcement agencies to prevent trafficking of illicit goods. Secondly, it serves to facilitate trade across the border by strengthening cooperation with the private sector and streamlining cargo clearance and control processes”, said Ms. Cristina Albertin, Regional Representative of UNODC.

(Source: IOM)

EU, World Bank support Iraq Energy Sector Reforms

In the framework of the financing agreement signed yesterday by the Government of Iraq (GoI) and the European Union (EU) committing €14 million (US$15.8 equivalent) to support the government’s efforts to ensure increased and more reliable energy access for the Iraqi population, the EU and the World Bank Group (WBG) have signed today a €12.85 million (US$14.5 equivalent) implementation agreement to provide the needed technical assistance.

The initiative complements the ongoing and upcoming World Bank interventions in support of the GoI’s energy sector reforms, including those embedded in the budget support operations series (Development Policy Financing programs – DPFs), the Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) for structuring the Gas Value Chain and Gas Marketing in Iraq, and the support to subsidy reforms funded by the ESMAP’s Energy Subsidy Reform Technical Assistance Facility (ESRAF).

Supporting Iraq’s private sector enabling energy sector reforms is a priority development objective in the country both for the EU and the WBG. In a country where the energy sector accounts for more than 90% of central government revenues, addressing energy sector challenges is an essential and complementary action to any public finances related reforms, an area in which the European Union and the World Bank are also partnering in Iraq.

The country is also the world’s 3rd largest exporter of oil and its untapped natural gas reserves are the 12th largest in the world, yet it is forced to import fuel to meet its domestic energy demand, which imposes significant economic and fiscal strain on public finances. Equally important, Iraqi citizens are regularly faced with power shortages and have to resort to more expensive and pollutant sources of energy.

Efficiency in the management of public resources and delivery of services are critical to the achievement of public policy objectives, especially for a resource-rich upper-middle income country like Iraq, as well as fundamental to restore the trust and social contract between Iraqi citizen’s and the country’s institutions, especially in a post-conflict era of stabilisation and reconstruction. “As pledged in the Kuwait Conference, the European Union is committed to help Iraq’s reconstruction efforts and economic and political reforms to secure a better future for its citizens,”

(Source: Relief Web)

Germany Enhances Support for Community Policing in Iraq

This week the German Federal Foreign Office bolstered IOM’s Community Policing (CP) programme in Iraq by providing an additional 1.7 million Euros, raising Germany’s total contributions to this important effort to 5.7 million Euros.

IOM’s CP programme aims to contribute to enhanced security and stability in Iraq, by facilitating dialogue between communities and law enforcement actors, through Community Policing Forums (CPF) in communities affected by conflict and displacement.

In the last three years 101 Community Policing Forums (CPFs) have been established across Iraq with the support of IOM. CPFs aim to resolve a variety of security concerns at the community level, including those related to housing, land and property (HLP) disputes, access to water and electricity, civil unrest, documentation for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees, child protection, human trafficking, sexual harassment and domestic violence.

The German Ambassador to Iraq, Dr. Cyrill Nunn, said:

“Community Policing is an important strategy to bring together socially fragmented communities in Iraq to peacefully resolve security related problems. Germany supports Community Policing to build and strengthen mutual trust between citizens and law enforcement agencies, contributing to safe and stable communities – the building blocks of a stable Iraq.”

CPFs are facilitated by a CP officer from the local police department and by elected community members. IOM guides CPFs in the development of community safety plans which identify the most critical security and safety issues that can be addressed and tackled by the community and the police.

Gerard Waite, IOM Chief of Mission in Iraq commented:

Issues are resolved mainly through identifying the correct entity to refer to, either law enforcement, public institutions, civil society organizations, or the community themselves.”

“The success of these forums can be seen through a variety of indicators, such as a decrease in crime, an increase in the level of cooperation from the community in solving security problems, and less use of force by police towards members of the community.

Brigadier Khalid Falah Kadhim, head of Iraq CP Directorate within the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, testifies to the positive impact the CP model has had on local police structures at the community level:

“The logistical and technical support provided by IOM to rebuild infrastructure and strengthen the capacity of community policing has played a fundamental role in peace building in communities, and we are thankful to the Government of Germany for providing this support.”

(Source: IOM)

Germany gives another EUR 22m for Stabilization in Iraq

The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contributed an additional EUR 22 million to the UNDP Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), which finances fast-track initiatives in areas of Iraq liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This brings the Ministry’s contribution to EUR 80.2 million and the total support from the Government of Germany to EUR 209.9 million.

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

“Enormous progress continues to be made across the liberated areas of Iraq, with seventy percent of those who were displaced during the conflict now returned home. UNDP deeply appreciates the timely funding provided by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and while there remains a great deal of work to do, this generous contribution will help re-establish public services and rebuild social cohesion in the most vulnerable areas.”

The German Ambassador to Iraq, H.E. Dr. Cyrill Nunn, said:

“Germany continues to support Iraq’s stabilization efforts to shore up the progress made to date. As we look to the new Government to step forward to take increasing ownership of stabilisation and more long term development efforts, we will remain a committed partner for the people of Iraq and a strong supporter of the efforts of the United Nations.”

In addition to its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany also contributes to FFS through its Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development implemented by KfW, the German development bank.

At the request of the Government of Iraq, UNDP established the FFS in June 2015 to facilitate the return of displaced Iraqis, lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery, and safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism.

The Facility has a portfolio of over 3,000 projects – half of which are already completed – in the provinces of Ninewah, Anbar, Salah Al-Din, Diyala and Kirkuk.

The FFS repairs essential public infrastructure such as electricity, water and sewage system grids. It rebuilds schools, health centres and homes, and provides people with short-term employment through public works schemes in areas directly impacted by ISIL.

This investment in critical services sets the stage for recovery and resilience work, as well as longer-term reconstruction and development activities. Over 95 percent of all stabilization projects are carried out by local private sector companies, providing a key source of employment for local people.

(Source: UN)

Why has Illiteracy Rate gone up in 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.

According to the head of the literacy department at the Directorate General of Education in Basra, Karim Handhal Abdul Karim, student participation in literacy centers in Iraq’s southern province of Basra has dwindled in 2018 by more than two-thirds compared to 2013.

Abdul Karim told the press Nov. 22:

“It is such a big contrast when comparing this year’s figures to those of 2013. The number of students in Basra’s 339 literacy centers amounted to over 39,000 in 2013. In 2018, however, only 1,200 students were enrolled in the 21 centers in the province.”

He attributed the decline to the fact that students enrolled in literacy centers are no longer paid by the government for taking classes at these centers.

Click here to read the full story.

Video: Iraq marks One Year since ‘Victory’ against IS

From AFP. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqis forces parade and celebrate in the streets of Mosul as they mark a year since Iraq declared victory against the Islamic State group, the conclusion of a three-year battle to oust the jihadists.

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Latest threat to Displaced Children in Iraq: Winter

As Nadia Murad (pictured), the Yazidi activist and survivor of gender-based violence is honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace, UNICEF is calling attention to the plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced children in Iraq whose lives are threatened by freezing temperatures and floods that have affected large parts of the country.

“As the world celebrates Nadia Murad’s incredible story of survival and her work for human rights, let us remember that there are many vulnerable children in Iraq who still need our support, even if the worse of the violence may be over” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

Winters in Iraq are harsh. It rains and snows and temperatures can fall below zero in the northern part of the country, where a majority of Yazidi and other displaced children live. Most displaced families live below the poverty line, in dilapidated housing with poor heating, or in camps with little protection from the cold. It impossible to afford fuel for heating and winter clothing to keep their children warm.

“The devastating floods have made this winter even more difficult for displaced children who are extremely vulnerable to hypothermia and respiratory diseases. No child should be subjected to such risks. Every child deserves to be warm and healthy,” added Mr. Hawkins.

UNICEF is providing winter clothes, including boots, scarves, and hats to approximately 161,000 children in Sinjar, Erbil, Dohuk, Ninawa, Anbar, Diwaniya, Basra, Salaheddin, Baghdad and Suleimaniah, including through cash support.

UNICEF’s winter campaign aims to reach the most vulnerable children aged between three months and 14 years living in camps for the internally displaced and in hard-to-reach areas.

(Source: UN)