Iraqi allies pledge $30B to rebuild country

Feb. 14 (UPI) — Iraq’s allies have pledged $30 billion in support of a two-year recovery and rebuilding program for the country, the United Nations announced Wednesday.

The commitments came at a three-day donor conference in nearby Kuwait City. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged nations to support an effort to rebuild Iraq. Guterres spoke about literal reconstruction of the nation’s infrastructure, as well as its political and social channels.

“Iraq surmounted an incredible challenge in its defeat of ISIL [IS], but many challenges still remain,” he said. “After the last three days in Kuwait, I feel hope for a new Iraq that is open for business and prepared to face the next challenge of rebuilding communities while reconstructing schools, roads, bridges, hospitals and public infrastructure. A prosperous Iraq will be a pillar for development and stability in the region.”

Iraq’s government, however, said it needs roughly $88 billion to finance reconstruction efforts, the international newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

The meeting convened two months after the Iraqi government declared victory in a three-year battle against the Islamic State. Damage to civilian infrastructure, including houses, schools and power plants, totaled more than $45 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported. It added that nearly 6 million people were displaced.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar each offered $1 billion. The United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million. Kuwait contributed $1 billion through its development fund as well $1 billion more in investment. The Arab Fund pledged $1.5 billion, the Islamic Development Bank added $500 million and Turkey extended a $5 billion line of credit and $50 million in humanitarian assistance. Germany pledged $430 million.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Export-Import Bank agreed to a memorandum of understanding guaranteeing $3 billion in loans but the United States provided no further contributions at the conference. Iran attended the conference but made no offer.

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