This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Child labour is illegal in Iraq. But if there is death or disease in the family, minors are often forced to work. The authorities responsible for policing labour laws take a range of different attitudes to that.
Just a few days after the beginning of the new school term in Baghdad and Mohammed Ali dropped out. He is 12. His father was killed in a bombing in the city a few months ago and now as the eldest of three sons he feels adult responsibility weighing heavily upon him.
“I just had to search for a job, any job, in order to bring food to my brothers and to my mother who is taking care of them,” says Ali, who NIQASH met on the street. “I will never let her go out to search for a job as long as I am there for her.”
Ali is sweating and he wears ragged clothing. He works as a porter and carries building materials, rocks and other heavy items around the city. He leaves home at sunrise and returns at sunset, eats just one meal a day that costs him about IQD1,000 (US$0.83) and gives the rest of his daily wages, IQD15,000 (around US$12) to his mother for housekeeping. He makes sure that his younger brothers are doing all right and he sleeps next to them in the same bed before getting up the next day to go out and do the same all over again.
Ali is just one of many underage labourers in Iraq. The number of child workers has increased significantly since 2003. Last year the United Nations children’s’ agency, UNICEF, said that more than half a million Iraqi children are thought to be working rather than at school. A lot of those cases are due to violence or displacement, as in Ali’s situation. Iraq’s own Ministry of Planning has higher numbers, saying that about one in five children, aged mostly between five and 14, work to support their families and themselves.
For more than 3 years, the people of Hawiija [Hawijah] district in Kirkuk governorate, were cut off from lifesaving health care and immunization services, leaving many children susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. “For years, I worried that my children may contract polio and measles or die,” said Hadija, a 32-year-old mother of 3.
In September 2017, the district became accessible following military operations launched by the Government of Iraq. WHO, together with Kirkuk Directorate of Health, immediately deployed mobile medical teams to provide immunization services, and health care for people suffering from trauma injuries or chronic disease conditions.
Five mobile medical teams were deployed to Khan, Tal Ali, Abbassi, Masanaa, Al Zab and Ryadh areas. Since then, from mid-September to 15 November 2017, more than 10000 people in Hawiija district have benefited from WHO’s support, including 1563 children vaccinated against childhood immunizable diseases.
Although these newly accessible areas are still security compromised, WHO saw an urgency in delivering health care to thousands of people that had been cut off from aid for years, and whose health was being compromised day by day. Five main health facilities have been partially or completely damaged, in addition to Hawija general hospital. Currently, only the Kirkuk Directorate of Health and WHO-supported frontline health teams are delivering immunization services in these areas.
Pope Francis was presented with the keys to a brand-new Lamborghini Huracan on Wednesday by officials from the luxury car maker.
The special edition car, however, will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in London and the proceeds given to four charities in Pope Francis’ name.
Pope Francis blessed the car and signed the hood after receiving it in front of his Casa Santa Marta residence.
Sporting the papal colors – white with yellow-gold detailing – the Lamborghini Huracan’s base price usually start at 183,000 euros but the specially-made papal car should bring far more at auction.
A statement from the Holy See Press Office said some of the proceeds will go to the papal charity “Aid to the Church in Need” towards rebuilding homes, churches, and public buildings in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains. These funds, the statement said, will help Christians who had taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan “to finally return to their roots and recover their dignity.”
WHO delivers urgent health assistance for earthquake trauma patients
In response to the recent earthquake in the border region between Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s office in Iraq has deployed a medical team supported with 3 ambulances, 4 tents and emergency lifesaving supplies to Sulaymaniyah governorate in northern Iraq.
The health supplies, sufficient for 200 surgical operations, have been prepositioned at the Emergency Hospital in Sulaymaniyah governorate.
An interagency assessment mission to Sulaymaniyah governorate reported that 8 people had been killed, more than 500 people injured and 3 health facilities damaged, 2 of which remain nonfunctional as a result of the earthquake.
WHO’s support is in response to a request from the Directorate of Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, Ministry of Interior, Kurdistan Regional Government and the Directorate of Health Sulaymaniyah.
On Sunday, 13 November 2017, an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale struck approximately 32 kms from the city of Halabja, Iraq. The earthquake was felt across Iraq, including in the cities of Baghdad, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Basra. Five districts in Sulaymaniyah were struck the hardest.
WHO and health partners continue to closely monitor the situation and will continue to deliver assistance to health facilities receiving patients affected by the earthquake. This emergency response by WHO has been made possible with funds from European Union Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA).
By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
On Nov. 3, NASA published clear images taken by its satellites of the severe dust storm that hit Iraq recently. The climate changes sweeping Iraq are causing human casualties and economic damages. Hundreds of cases of suffocation were recorded.
The Ministry of Health announced Oct. 30 that there were more than 4,200 cases of suffocation in most governorates, including 528 in Karbala. During the dust storm, the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority canceled its flights, and Iranian flights to Baghdad and Najaf airports were also canceled. Ninevah province recorded 1,108 cases of suffocation in the camps for internally displaced persons.
The storms also affected the course of the battles between the Iraqi forces and the Islamic State (IS). On Oct. 31, the Iraqi forces were forced to postpone the campaign aimed to retrieve the city of Qaim, west of Anbar, from IS because of the lack of visibility caused by the dust storms.
While dust storms are occurring in neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and even Iran, “Iraq is one of the most affected countries by the storm, at the level of its environment, individuals’ health and economy,” said Amer Habib of the Technical College Musayyib in Babil province and the director of a project on organic fertilizers in Babil.
“This is due to the fact that Iraq is a barren land where vegetation is scarce. Human activities have swept away orchards and agricultural lands, which also led to the decrease of the rivers’ water levels and the lack of rainfall, which resulted in the drying up of huge areas of agricultural spaces.”
In 2011, the World Meteorological Organization identified dust storms as a natural disaster. Several countries around the world have strengthened their defense strategies against this environmental threat with green belts of trees that are resistant to drought and harsh environments. The stakeholders, especially local governments in Iraq, have been following the same approach for years and have developed projects to help eliminate desertification.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a contribution of US$1.5 million from the Republic of Korea that will provide food assistance for some 30,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for two months.
Song Woong-Yeob (pictured), Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Iraq, said:
“In the aftermath of conflict, the Republic of Korea was once a recipient of food assistance, including from WFP.
“We have now become donors and maintain a strong partnership with WFP in over 30 countries. We sincerely hope this contribution will provide much needed relief to Syrian refugees and their families in Iraq.”
This contribution will allow WFP to provide food assistance to Syrian families that have sought refuge in Iraq. Through electronic food cards that WFP provides to vulnerable people in Iraq, each family member will receive US$19 per month to purchase the food they prefer from local shops.
In addition to allowing for greater choice in their diets, this programme injects cash into the local economy, which benefits shops and producers with increased demand for their products.
Sally Haydock, WFP Representative in Iraq, said:
“Thanks to this generous and timely donation from the Republic of Korea, WFP will continue to address the underlying causes of vulnerability for Syrian refugees in Iraq, increase families’ self-reliance and reduce the need for international assistance in the future.”
Since 2014, the Republic of Korea has provided US$4.8 million in support of WFP food assistance for Syrian refugees in Iraq.
The Government of the Republic of Korea and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a partnership agreement today for US$4 million to support stabilization and recovery in newly liberated areas in Iraq.
Korea’s contribution will be channeled through UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), which finances fast-track initiatives in areas retaken from ISIL. This is Korea’s fourth contribution since 2015 to FFS.
Based on priorities identified by the Government of Iraq and local authorities, FFS helps quickly repair public infrastructure, provides grants to small businesses, boosts the capacity of local government, and provides short-term employment through public works schemes.
During a signing ceremony held in Baghdad, UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, said:
“Stabilizing Mosul is the biggest stabilization challenge we have faced. There are 366 stabilization projects already underway in the city, but so much more needs to be done. This generous contribution from the Republic of Korea will help us accelerate our work in western Mosul. The level of destruction in this part of the city is the worst in the country.”
H.E. the Korean Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Song Woong-Yeob, said,
“The Republic of Korea is deeply committed to supporting efforts of the Iraqi Government and the international community to stabilize areas affected by the violence of ISIL. I firmly believe that our fourth contribution will further help the efforts by imbuing affected Iraqis with hope and empowering them to recover and start the process of rebuilding their communities.”
UNDP’s Funding Facility is implementing over 1,200 initiatives in newly liberated areas of Anbar, Salah al-Din, Ninewah, and Diyala.
Hundreds of thousands of children and their families in Iraq who have suffered the pain of brutal conflict and displacement will have regular access to lifesaving clean drinking water and services that respond to gender based violence thanks to help from the U.S. government.
With the latest contribution of nearly 9 million US$ from the United States Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), UNICEF and its partners will be able to provide safe drinking water to families living in displacement camps as part of its emergency first line response, as well as repair damaged water supply infrastructure.
OFDA’s generous assistance will also help bring age-appropriate and survivor-centered community-based multi-sector services to survivors of gender based violence.
Hamida Ramadhani, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Iraq, said:
“The provision of multi-sector support services to women and children who carry invisible wounds as a result of conflict, gender-based violence and large-scale displacement is particularly important to help them cope and to re-build their lives.”
Nearly five million children are in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Iraq. UNICEF continues to count on the United States as a major global donor of humanitarian and development assistance to respond to the most urgent needs of the most vulnerable children around the world.