UNITED NATIONS, New York – “I have not forgotten Iraq,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.
With the end of major offensives against ISIS, Iraq is now struggling to rebuild war-damaged villages and cities and provide the security and stability needed to help the 2 million Iraqis still displaced return to their homes.
“The stability of Iraq, the democratic nature of Iraq, the non-sectarian nature of Iraq is, I think, a fundamental contribution for the whole region and for peace and security globally,” said Guterres in answer to a question from Rudaw’s Majeed Gly.
“I believe all the international community should be fully engaged in supporting Iraq in the process that is now taking place,” he added.
He would like to see Iraq work its way through the drawn out election process after the disputed May 12 vote and emerge as a nation “with the full capacity to put their resources at the disposal of their own people.”
The World Food Programme estimates that as many as 8.7 million people
across Iraq will require some form of humanitarian assistance over the course of 2018 – mainly in Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Anbar provinces.
In Nineveh’s largest city, Mosul, the extent of the devastation
“cannot be underestimated,” according to Amin Awad, UNHCR’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Iraq received pledges of $30 billion dollars for reconstruction in a donor conference in Kuwait earlier this year, falling far short of their $80-$100 billion target.
The Iraqi government has dedicated $540 million for reconstruction this year “to bring back stability and the voluntary return of IDPs to the liberated areas,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
The funds will be given to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to administer according to a government plan, Abadi added, in perhaps an unstated acknowledgement of Iraq’s corruption problem.