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UN chief urges world support for Iraq after war with IS

Updated February 14, 2018

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UN chief Antonio Guterres urged the international community on Wednesday to support Iraq's reconstruction after its devastating war with the Islamic State group.

“The whole world owes you a debt for your struggle against the deadly global threat posed by Daesh (IS),” Guterres told a donors' conference in Kuwait City in comments directed at the Iraqi delegation.

“It is time to demonstrate our lasting gratitude and solidarity with the Iraqi people,” he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (L), Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah (C) and Secretary general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres attend the second day of an international conference for reconstruction of Iraq, in Kuwait City, on February 14, 2018. — AFP
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (L), Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah (C) and Secretary general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres attend the second day of an international conference for reconstruction of Iraq, in Kuwait City, on February 14, 2018. — AFP

Guterres highlighted two key UN-backed initiatives for which he was seeking support.

“The UN Development Programme's Funding Facility for Stabilisation is working in 25 cities and districts, supporting the return of displaced people to their homes,” the UN chief said, adding that 2.5 million remained displaced.

He also announced a new, two-year Recovery and Resilience Programme.

“It aims to make immediate and tangible improvements to people's daily lives, rather than the long timelines associated with major infrastructure projects and economic reforms,” he said.

Baghdad says it needs nearly $90 billion to rebuild, after more than three years of fighting with IS devastated homes, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government is hoping the international community will follow up the end of major combat against IS, with concrete financial support for reconstruction.

Kuwait, which was hosting the international donors' conference, pledged $2 billion in investment and loans.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also came forward to pledge $5 billion in loans and investment for the reconstruction effort.

Saudi Arabia meanwhile said it would allocate $1 billion to investment projects in Iraq and $500 million to support Iraqi exports, while Qatar said it would allocate $1 billion in loans and investments.