$30bn pledged for Iraq reconstruction

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi (L), Amir 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. (AFP)
Updated 15 February 2018
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$30bn pledged for Iraq reconstruction

KUWAIT CITY: Saudi Arabia allocated $1.5 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq as foreign donors pledged billions of dollars at a conference in Kuwait on Wednesday.
Governments, global funds, organizations and investors offered $30 billion in loans and investment to repair the structural damage inflicted on the country during the three-year war with Daesh.
Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said the pledge from Saudi Arabia included a $1 billion loan through the Saudi Fund for Development and $500 million in export credit.
Kuwait said it would provide $1 billion in loans from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and $1 billion in direct investments.
Turkey said it would give Iraq $5 billion in credit lines and Qatar announced $1 billion in loans and investments.
The UAE pledged $500 million for rebuilding, Germany said it would provide $350 million in assistance and Britain pledged up to $1 billion annually in export credit over 10 years.
Iraq said it needs $88 billion to rebuild areas of the country decimated by the Daesh occupation and the battle to defeat the extremists.
“Our meeting today is a continuation of our pursuits to counter and combat terrorism and counter the dangers and challenges it brings,” said Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. “The stability and security of Iraq means the stability and security of Kuwait and the whole region.”
The donations on the third day of the conference still fell far short of the overall figure required by Iraq to rebuild.
Iraqi officials estimate that $17 billion needs to go toward rebuilding homes. The UN estimates 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in Mosul alone.
“We look at the future of Iraq with confidence…we are determined to succeed to create the inclusiveness (of the Iraqi people) despite the challenges that we face today and will face in the future,” Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Abadi, said.
He also said the money would not be lost to corruption — “one of the reasons for the rise of terrorism”.
“Last week, we launched a string of measures to simplify procedures for investments,” Abadi said.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Iraqi people were finally united for a common purpose, which is the defeat of Daesh and the rise of a new Iraq.
 “Despite years of conflict, there is still a common identity that binds together the people of Iraq,” she said.  
“We have to ensure that the dark days of Iraq are gone for good. Investing in infrastructure is essential, so is investing in human capital.”
Mogherini said the EU aid would go toward humanitarian development and stabilization.
Millions of Iraqis have returned to their homes to rebuild their lives, but 2.5 million remained displaced, according to the UN.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, used the conference to launch a program focused on revitalizing areas of Iraq most at risk of violence and supporting an inclusive political process.
“Iraqis are building a new Iraq,” Guterres said. “An Iraq that is ready for wide-ranging reforms, including to its public finance and security sectors. The UN system will do its part and stand with you every step of the way.”
Other pledges came from Japan, which said it would contribute $100 million this year through UN agencies and international organizations.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said the Export-Import Bank of the United States was set sign a $3 billion memorandum of understanding with Baghdad, which would “set a stage for future cooperation across key sectors of Iraq’s economy including oil and gas, transportation, and commodities.”
Daesh seized large areas of north and west Iraq in 2014. Baghdad finally announced the extremist’s defeat in December.
Cities like Mosul and Ramadi suffered the worst destruction during the group’s violent occupation. Extensive damage was also done to the country’s infrastructure, including the oil and gas sectors.


Palestinian FM to press ICC on war crimes probe

Updated 37 min 24 sec ago
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Palestinian FM to press ICC on war crimes probe

THE HAGUE: Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki was to arrive in The Netherlands later Monday ahead of talks with the chief prosecutor of the world's only permanent war crimes court.
Maliki will meet with prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Tuesday morning just over a week after 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire as they protested the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.
Maliki will update Bensouda on the situation in the Palestinian territories and also "submit a referral" on the issue of Jewish settlements during their talks at the International Criminal Court ICC), the Palestinian embassy in The Hague said in a statement.
Afterwards, Maliki will hold a press conference outside the court. He will also meet later Tuesday with Dutch counterpart Stef Blok.
Bensouda vowed last week that she was watching the unrest in Gaza closely and would "take any action warranted" to prosecute crimes.
"My staff is vigilantly following developments on the ground and recording any alleged crime that could fall within" the tribunal's jurisdiction, she warned in a statement to AFP.
"The violence must stop," she insisted, urging "all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this situation and the Israel Defence Forces to avoid excessive use of force."
The Palestinian Authority joined the ICC in January 2015 signing up to the Rome Statute which underpins the world's only permanent war crimes court.
The Palestinians asked the prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes committed in the Palestinian territories in the Gaza war the previous year, and Bensouda opened her inquiry just a few days later.
The preliminary examination which comes ahead of a full-blown investigation continues.