UN launches two-year Recovery Programme to fast-track reconstruction
Representatives from neighbouring countries and investors gathered in Kuwait this week to discuss ways to rebuild Iraq’s economy and infrastructure as it begins to recover from a devastating conflict against Islamic State militants who had seized almost a third of the country.This conflict left thousands dead, millions displaced and almost 150,000 houses destroyed. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the conference “an enormous success”.
This week the United Nations launched a two-year Recovery and Resilience program designed to help Iraq’s government fast-track the social dimensions of reconstruction.
“The program will … help families when they return home to get back on their feet, provide specialized support to survivors … of sexual and gender-based violence, people who survived injuries,” said Lise Grande, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. She also talked about a special programme to promote community reconciliation in areas with strong sectarian tensions.
Iraq received pledges of $30 billion, mostly in credit facilities and investment, from its allies:
• Saudi Arabia – $1 billion through its Saudi Fund for Development and $500 million in export credit
• Kuwait – $1 billion in loans and another $1 billion as investments
• Qatar – $1 billion in loans and investments
• United Arab Emirates- $500 million and $5.5 billion in private sector investments in Iraq.
• Turkey – $5 billion in credit lines, and other allies made smaller pledges.
Although the United States said it was extending a $3 billion credit line to Iraq, it has not provided any direct government assistance. It appears to be relying largely on Gulf allies to shoulder the burden of rebuilding Iraq.
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said Iraq might have been unable to attract more pledges because of its reputation for corruption. Investors see Iraq as the 10th most corrupt country, according to Transparency International.
Major international charities are also pledging to help reconstruction in Iraq. Aid to the Church in Need recently announced a US$5 million (£3.6 million) package for projects to renovate 2,000 houses on the Nineveh Plains