ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman announced on Tuesday that Washington would be providing $75 million in additional funding to help stabilize Iraq following the full liberation of the country from the Islamic State (IS).
The US plans to provide a total of $150 million to stabilization efforts in Iraq in 2018, bringing Washington’s total contribution to $265.3 million since 2015, according to the US Embassy in Baghdad.
“Our commitment to the Iraqi people does not end with the eradication of ISIS [IS],” said Silliman.
“Communities in the liberated areas now face the daunting challenge of rebuilding their lives and restoring their cultural heritage. These funds will help restore basic services like water and electricity so that Iraqi families of all ethnic and religious backgrounds can return to their homes – safely, voluntarily, and with dignity.”
The Embassy’s statement mentioned that the funds would be administered through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Twenty-four international donors support the UNDP stabilization program which is managed in close cooperation with the Government of Iraq at the federal and local levels, according to the Embassy press office.
The aid is designed to help the displaced people return to their homes in liberated areas and resume life and restore public services such as water, electricity, health, and education.
“The stabilization program also supports temporary cash-for-work employment and grants to small businesses to jump-start local economies. Part of the additional US funding announced today will address the needs of vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities, especially those who have been victims of ISIS atrocities,” the Embassy’s press office added.
In spite of the full liberation of areas occupied by the jihadist group since 2014, millions of people remain displaced in Iraq. Earlier this week, however, Reuters revealed Iraqi security forces were sending people back to their liberated areas against their will, exposing them to death from booby-traps or acts of terrorism, so that elections planned for May are held on time.
According to refugees and aid workers, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Shia-led government “is more interested in winning elections in May than alleviating the suffering of displaced Iraqis and returning them safely home.”
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Region has been home to over 1.5 million Iraqi displaced people and Syrian refugees since the emergence of IS.
Editing by Nadia Riva