humanitarian assistance


Video: Angelina Jolie visits Devastated Mosul

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

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visits West Mosul, less than a year after the city’s liberation.

The visit marks Jolie’s 61st mission – and her fifth visit to Iraq – with the UN Refugee Agency since 2001.

She arrives in the city on the second day of the Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

View on YouTube

Angelina Jolie visits Domiz Refugee Camp

Statement by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie at Domiz refugee camp in Iraq

In my country, when we speak of the Middle East we often focus on conflict and human suffering.

And it is true that countless families in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are suffering from conflict they personally have no part in, instability they cannot control, and extremism that they reject.

But on this visit I have been reminded, as I am every time I am here, of the truly extraordinary dignity, resilience, warmth, generosity and grace of the people of the Middle East.

And I want to thank the people of Iraq for their generosity towards Syrian refugees and displaced people, and in particular the KRI government, which is setting a model for refugee protection.

I’m happy have been here on Eid al-Fitr, and I wish the Iraqi people, the Syrian people, and families across this region and beyond, Eid Mubarak, or Jaznawa Piroz Bit.

I am in Iraq to mark World Refugee Day next week. On Tuesday, UNHCR will publish new figures showing that the numbers of displaced people, and the duration of their exile, are the highest they have ever been. At the same time political solutions seem completely lacking, leaving a void that humanitarian aid cannot fill.

Words like “unsustainable” don’t paint a picture of how desperate these times are.

This is my third visit to Domiz camp in six years. The vast majority of its inhabitants are Syrian women and children.

Their lives are on hold indefinitely because of the war. They cannot go back, they cannot move forward, and each year they have less to live on.

I met two mothers this morning, both of them widows. They both lost their husbands while living as refugees, to medical conditions that could normally have been treated.

And now they are both caring for young aged five 5 and 7 who also have life-threatening medical conditions.

When UNHCR’s Syria response was only 50 per cent funded last year, and this year it is only 17 per cent funded, there are terrible human consequences. We should be under no illusions about this.

When there is not even the bare minimum of aid, refugee families cannot receive adequate medical treatment, women and girls are left vulnerable to sexual violence, many children cannot go to school, and we squander the opportunity of being able to invest in refugees so that they can acquire new skills and support their families.

This is the picture in Iraq, in Syria, and wherever in the world you find refugees and displaced people today.

The only answer is to end the conflicts that are forcing people to flee their homes – and for all governments to meet their responsibilities.

So this World Refugee Day I hope that people around the world will consider this larger picture:

What this level and length of displacement says about our world being dangerously out of balance.

What it will say about us if our response is to be selective about when we help, and when we are prepared to defend human rights.

And what it will mean for the future if we are unable to provide enough basic humanitarian support for displaced people and unable to find any solutions to conflicts at the same time.

That is the situation today, but it is not hopeless.

There are millions of refugees and displaced people who want to return home and to work and start over – as I saw in Mosul yesterday, where brick by brick, with their own hands, they are rebuilding their homes.

There are countries that are keeping their borders open to refugees, despite all the pressures and challenges.

There are aid relief workers who are stretching the aid resources, somehow, to minimize loss of life and provide protection.

And there are people around the world who are more committed than ever to defending human rights and basic values.

So on World Refugee Day this year I hope that we can find the strength to find a better way forward together: so that we move into a new era of preventing conflict and reducing instability, rather than simply struggling to deal with its consequences.

Thank you.

(Source: UNHCR)

Video: AMAR’S Clinic for IDPs in Najaf

From the AMAR International Charitable Foundation.

Baroness Nicholson visits Najaf to mark the continuing success of AMAR’s busy public health clinic:

Please click here to help AMAR in their valuable work in Iraq.

2018 Humanitarian Plans for Iraq Launched

On 6 March, the Government of Iraq as well as the United Nations and its partners launched their 2018 plans for Iraq – the Plan for Relief, Shelter and Stabilization of Displaced People, and the Humanitarian Response Plan.

With the end of large-scale military offensives in late 2017, many families have been returning and are trying to rebuild their lives and homes. As many as two million displaced Iraqis are expected to return in 2018; hence, all efforts must be made to support them in this transition.

This year, approximately, 8.7 million people, nearly half of them children, will require some form of humanitarian assistance.

The Minister of Migration and Displacement said:

The Government’s Plan for Relief, Shelter and Stabilization of Displaced People aims at strengthening the provision of legal protection to internally displaced persons as well as supporting safe returns.

“The plan focuses on supporting returning families with one-off emergency cash assistance to provide the necessities of life, in addition to supporting some basic projects, and continuing to support displaced families with relief items and maintaining the provision of services in camps.

Dr. Mahdi Al-Alaq, the Secretary-General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, referred to Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi’s directive on providing an appropriate environment for the return of displaced people through the implementation of stabilization projects in the liberated areas.

This affirmed the government’s keenness to return the displaced people voluntarily while ensuring the provision of basic services to people in the areas liberated by Iraq’s Armed Forces from ISIL terrorism.

In 2018, the Humanitarian Community, comprised of UN agencies, national and international NGOs and other partners, is requesting US$569 million through the Humanitarian Response Plan to respond to the needs of 3.4 million of the most vulnerable people in Iraq.

The provision of protection support is paramount. Without such services, families may be unable to return home, or will do so in unsustainable conditions.

Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said:

As people return to their areas of origin with a large number of camps in Iraq becoming consolidated or decommissioned during the course of this year, many will need assistance including those who are returning as well as those who are unable to.

“Continued advocacy by the humanitarian community against involuntary or premature returns and strengthening mechanisms with the government authorities for supporting voluntary and safe returns is a key component of the 2018 humanitarian response plan.

The Government of Iraq and the humanitarian community in Iraq will continue to coordinate humanitarian assistance to better respond to the needs and challenges faced by displaced people and returnees across the country. The humanitarian operations will be conducted in close collaboration with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Overviews of the Humanitarian Response Plan, in Arabic and English, can be found in our Reports Section.

(Source: UN)

Number of Returns Exceeds Number of Displaced Iraqis

Number of Returns Exceeds Number of Displaced Iraqis: UN Migration Agency

For the first time since the beginning of the Iraq crisis in December 2013, the number of people returning to their area of origin has surpassed the number of people displaced in the country.

Over the past four years, the country has been deeply affected by the conflict with ISIL, which led to the displacement of nearly six million people. Prime Minister Abadi announced Iraq’s victory over ISIL on 9 December 2017; by the end of 2017 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, identified 3.2 million people, who have returned back to their place of origin, while a staggering 2.6 million remained displaced.

Following the improvement of the security situation in retaken areas, a sizable number of internally displaced Iraqis have returned to their location of origin, mainly to the Governorates of Anbar (38 per cent; more than 1.2 million people), Ninewa (30 per cent; nearly 975,000 people), and Salah al-Din (14 per cent; nearly 460,000 people). These three governorates were the worst affected by ISIL’s occupation, and count for 86 per cent of the current displaced population in the country.

Shortly after the operation to retake Mosul was launched in October 2016, IOM Iraq constructed two emergency displacement sites, one in Haj Ali and one in Qayara, with combined capacity of sheltering 110,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The sites were constructed in partnership with the Government’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement; both sites are located in the southeast of Ninewa governorate.

Anbar eyes Political Battle as Displaced Return

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

Two months after government forces retook Iraq’s last major city from the Islamic State (IS), the country is preparing for parliamentary elections slated for May.

Anbar, its largest and westernmost region, is where IS took control of its first Iraqi city in January 2014. Fighters from the international terrorist group are reportedly still hiding in parts of its vast desert.

How the shift from fighting a terrorist group with roots in the area to competition at the political level plays out will affect the years to come.

Provincial Gov. Mohamed al-Halbusi, who took office in the fall, told Al-Monitor that voter turnout had been very low in the province for many years due to the fear of insurgents but that he expected this to change in the upcoming elections.

Local officials, security forces and a tribal leader echoed that sentiment to Al-Monitor over a number of days in the province in early January. “About 85%” of the province’s inhabitants are home, Halbusi said, and “I think about 60% of them will vote.”

However, with many of the displaced still not back in their homes, some have called for the elections to be postponed.

Recent reports of forced returns from internally displaced person (IDP) camps scattered around the Sunni-dominant Anbar region and elsewhere in the country have also raised concern.

In an interview in Ramadi, provincial police chief Gen. Hadi Rizej Kessar told Al-Monitor, “We decided to close all IDP camps and send families back to their homes because the security is now good. But if we have some families that remain in the camps, we can arrange for them to vote inside the camps.”

AMAR Completes work at Bazwaya Health Centre

The AMAR International Charitable Foundation has announced that work on its new Bazwaya Primary Health Care Centre near Mosul is now complete.

The clinic is now fully equipped and locally-hired medical staff have been assigned to support a range of units providing vaccinations, ultrasound, a gynaecology department, dental services, maternal and child care, a malnutrition unit, a GP service and a laboratory.

The project is the fifth AMAR clinic to open inside an IDP camp in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

(Source: AMAR)

Germany supports WFP Assistance to Conflict-Affected Iraqis

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of €4.4 million (US$5.2 million) from the Government of Germany, which will provide cash-based assistance to almost a quarter of a million Iraqis for one month.

Dr. Cyrill Nunn (pictured), Germany’s Ambassador to Iraq, said:

The German Government greatly appreciates its strong and effective partnership with WFP in Iraq.

“WFP plays a critical role in providing life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people in this country. With this additional contribution to WFP’s Emergency Operation, we reconfirm our commitment to those who are in desperate situations – they will not be forgotten.”

This contribution will allow WFP to increase the scale and reach of cash-based transfers through WFP’s food assistance management system, known as SCOPE. This allows vulnerable Iraqis to buy nutritious foods of their choice from local shops.

Every month, families are notified by text message that their electronic credit allocation of around €15 euros (US$17) per family member has been reloaded. Using a WFP SCOPE card, they can withdraw cash from a local money transfer agency or pay for food in designated stores.

Sally Haydock, WFP Representative and Country Director in Iraq, said:

We’re grateful to the German Government for its contribution to assist Iraqis still affected by conflict.

“By giving cash assistance to families, we are giving them a broader choice in what they buy while helping strengthen the local food market.

Since 2014, Germany has contributed €104 million (US$122 million) to WFP’s operations in Iraq. These funds have enabled WFP to provide nutritious food to the most vulnerable Iraqis and Syrian refugees every month.

(Source: WFP)

Germany ties Aid to Peace Efforts

By John Lee.

Germany has said that its continuing aid to Iraq depends on peaceful efforts to solve the conflict between Baghdad and Erbil.

Reuters quotes German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (pictured) as saying on Monday:

“Our support is for Iraq as a unified state … We want to continue that, but the precondition is that Iraq solves its internal conflicts peacefully and democratically, and that we find a way out of the tense situation we are in now.”

He was speaking to reporters following a meeting with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Berlin.

Germany has given more than 1 billion euros in aid to Iraq since 2014.

(Source: Reuters)

IOM Assessment on Displacement and Returns in Iraq

As the Iraqi Government celebrated its final victory over ISIL this week, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, released a new study, which shows that 90 per cent of displaced Iraqis are determined to return home. This is similar to the long-term intentions recorded in 2016.

More than 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to their places of origin so far in 2017. In total since the start of the crisis in 2014, IOM estimates that more than 2.8 million displaced Iraqis have returned, while more than 2.9 million people remain displaced.

The IOM study, Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) analyzes both displacement and return movements of conflict-affected people across Iraq. Approximately 2.1 million displaced persons and more than 1.6 million returnees, based in 3,583 locations across Iraq, have been covered in the assessment, which was carried out between March and May 2017.

Only in Basrah and Najaf did families report that they consider integrating into the local community, where they are displaced.

According to the findings, Anbar was the single governorate where most returns took place in both 2016 and 2017, followed by Ninewa in 2017.

Among the main findings, this study identifies that residential and infrastructure damage is widespread. Nearly one third of returnees are reported to have returned to houses that have suffered significant damage, and 60 per cent to moderately damaged residences. Regarding infrastructure, most damage appears to affect roads, followed by the public power grid and water networks.