US to join Iraq pledging conf. next month

WASHINGTON, — On July 20, the United States will join Canada, Germany and Japan to co-host a Pledging Conference in Washington, DC, in support of Iraq, the State Department announced on Wednesday.

“The reports from Fallujah in recent days on the grave humanitarian situation for those displaced, as Iraqi Security Forces continue their successes against Da’esh in the city, are just the most recent reminder of the human toll this conflict has had on vulnerable civilians,” the announcement said. “It also reinforces the urgent need for the international community to continue to support humanitarian and stabilization efforts in Iraq.” Through its cooperation with the Iraqi government and the International Coalition, the UN has established the Fund for Immediate Stabilization (FFIS) in Iraq, which supports the implementation of rapid stabilization projects, the statement noted. FFIS has been used in Tikrit, Ramadi, Sinuni, Rabia, al-Dawr, Mkeishifa and Sa’adiyah to help restore electricity and water service, clear rubble, rehabilitate schools and health clinics and help get business in shape to reopen, it said.

“Through these efforts, more than 725,000 displaced Iraqis have been able to return to their homes, but much more is needed,” the statement said. “Due to the conflict and upheaval since January 2014, more than 3.4 million people are now displaced throughout Iraq; more than half are children. Across the country, over 10 million people are in urgent need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.” The highly-prioritized United Nations 2016 Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan calls for USD 861 million to support front-line humanitarian programs, but it is only 33 percent funded, the statement said.

The UN has already closed dozens of life-saving programs and has warned that without immediate additional funding, it will be forced to close dozens more as soon as this month, it said. Over the coming months, humanitarian costs could climb to over USD two billion, as potentially a million people are displaced from Mosul as military operations liberate Iraq’s second largest city, it said.

“The goal of the July 20 Pledging Conference is to garner much needed financial contributions to address the challenges faced by the Iraqi people and to ensure the lasting defeat of Da’esh in Iraq,” the statement said.

The international community has provided a significant amount of humanitarian assistance to Iraq, with the United States alone contributing approximately USD 800 million since 2014, it said.

“The United States will make a substantial humanitarian and stabilization pledge during the conference, and we look to other nations to join us in this effort,” the statement said.

Source: Kuwait News Agency