Kuwait to host Iraq reconstruction summit
Kuwait to host Iraq reconstruction summit
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said that despite “past wounds” — a reference to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait — his country had a “moral, humanitarian and Arab” duty to support its neighbor.
“The stability of Iraq is the stability of Kuwait and the region,” he said.
Iraqi forces have regained swathes of territory from the Daesh group since the jihadists seized a third of Iraq and large parts of Syria in 2014.
In December, Baghdad declared victory over the group following three years of war.
The Kuwait conference, from February 12-14, will devote its second day to the role of the private sector and civil society organizations in reconstruction, Jarallah said.
Mehdi Al-Alaq, the secretary general of Iraq’s Council of Ministers, said Baghdad and the World Bank had estimated reconstruction would cost at least $100 billion (84 billion euros).
“ISIS displaced 5 million people,” he said, speaking alongside Jarallah in Kuwait City.
“We succeeded in returning half to their areas, but we need international support to return the rest of the displaced.”
The International Organization for Migration said last week that by the end of 2017, more than 3.2 million Iraqis had returned home, but 2.6 million remained displaced.
Nearly one third are reported to have returned to houses that have been significantly or completely damaged, it said.
Alaq said heavy damage had also affected oil, electricity, transport, communications and manufacturing infrastructure as well as basic services such as water and sanitation.
Some Iraqis have complained of delays by central authorities in launching reconstruction efforts.
Baghdad has argued that the world “owes” it a program similar to the United States’ multi-billion dollar post-war Marshall Plan for Europe.
Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa
- Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side
ALEPPO, Syria: In rebel-held northern Syria, displaced children sit or lie on the ground of an unfinished villa, bending over their notebooks to apply themselves as they write the day’s lesson.
Four teachers instruct around 100 children — girls and boys aged six to 12 — at the makeshift school in an opposition-held area in the west of the northern province of Aleppo.
Between the bare walls of the villa abandoned mid-construction, children sit or lie on sheets or plain carpets, their small backpacks cast by their side.
Dubbed “Buds of Hope,” the teaching facility has no desks, library or even working toilets.
Instead, the air wafts in from beyond the pine trees outside through the gaping windows in the cement wall.
Dressed in a bright blue T-shirt and jeans, her hair neatly tied back in a pony tail, a barefoot girl kneels over her book, carefully writing.
“This isn’t a school,” says 11-year-old Ali Abdel Jawad.
“There aren’t any classrooms, no seats, nothing. We’re sitting on the ground,” he says.
In one classroom, a gaggle of veiled young girls sit on a bench, as the teacher explains the lesson to one of their male counterparts near a rare white board.
In another, the school’s only female teacher perches on a plastic chair, as her students gather around on the floor, their backs against the wall.
Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side.
The children — as well as their teachers — have been displaced from their homes in other parts of Syria due to the seven-year war, a teacher told an AFP photographer.
Some hail from Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, a former rebel stronghold that fell back under regime control in April after a blistering offensive and surrender deals.
Others come from the central provinces of Hama or Homs.
A dry fountain lies in the courtyard outside the villa’s elegant facade, where girls link arms and swing around in a circle.
Schools in opposition-held areas are generally funded by aid organizations, but have in the past been hit by bombardment.
“We’re always scared of bombardment and of the situation in general,” says one of the teachers, giving his name as Mohammed.
The building lies in rebel-held territory adjacent to regime-controlled parts of Aleppo city to the east, but also the major opposition stronghold of Idlib to the west.
Some three million people live in the Idlib province and adjacent areas of the neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces, around half of them displaced by war in other parts of Syria.
Earlier this month, many feared a regime assault on Idlib, but last week Damascus ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara announced a deal to temporarily halt it.