Belgium, Netherlands and Sweden commit $5 million to tackle COVID-19 outbreak
The governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden have collectively committed US$5 million to support the Government of Iraq's response to the COVID-19 crisis, in partnership with UNDP Iraq.
The funds, which were originally pledged under UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization to help rehabilitate infrastructure damaged by ISIL, are now being urgently redirected to support UNDP Iraq's initial $24 million COVID-19 response package.
Measures to combat the virus under this package include increasing the testing capacity of laboratories, providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, increasing the number of isolation wards, and undertaking assessments to establish post-COVID-19 recovery strategies.
Focusing on the most vulnerable communities in Iraq, activities will be rolled out in eight hospitals selected by local authorities in the underserved areas of Anbar, Diyala, Dohuk, Basra, Karbala, Najaf, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din.
Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad, said:
"Containing the coronavirus outbreak is now the Government of Iraq's number one priority, particularly as infection rates rise, putting more pressure on the Iraqi healthcare system outside the major capitals. We're extremely grateful to Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden for acting swiftly to commit these funds and being so flexible in administering them.
"Due to the strict curfews imposed by the Government of Iraq, we've had no choice but to temporarily halt the implementation of our stabilization activities. However, by capitalizing on the tried-and-tested processes of our successful stabilization work, we will respond to this unprecedented global health crisis with the speed and agility UNDP Iraq is known for.
"Once this pandemic is under control, our stabilization activities will resume. Until then, we will work closely with the Government of Iraq, the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies to curb the crisis as best we can."
UNDP Iraq is currently discussing the remaining $19 million funding gap with other international partners.
Processes have been established to ensure that once funds have been committed, the response measures can be implemented immediately.