Saudi Arabia to provide aid to Iraqi IDPs, returnees, and areas destroyed by ISIS

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it plans to implement “service and humanitarian” projects throughout Iraq, especially in cities that were once part of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it plans to implement “service and humanitarian” projects throughout Iraq, especially in cities that were once part of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

Despite the territorial defeat of the extremist group in Iraq and the liberation of all cities under its control, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are hesitant to return to their areas as sleeper cells still pose a threat to civilians, especially in rural areas.

A recent Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) report showed that just over 1.5 million people from across Iraq and Syria remain displaced within its borders. Close to 80 percent of that number are Iraqi IDPs who have fled various parts of the country and currently reside among local communities in the Kurdistan Region or live in specialized camps.

The KRG also said that it would need close to 2 billion USD in annual funding to sustain aid to both refugees and IDPs.

During a meeting between the Iraqi migration minister, Nawfal Bahaa Mousa, and the Saudi Ambassador to Iraq, Abdul-Aziz al-Shammari, the latter said his country was “ready for the next phase” to provide support, in coordination with the Iraqi government, to IDPs as well as returnees to destitute areas in all provinces of the country.

Shammari’s words were relayed in a statement issued by Mousa’s office following their meeting early Tuesday. The envoy was accompanied by a delegation that included the head of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, Fahad Al-Osaimi.

Osaimi said that the Saudi aid center would work on implementing service projects “which will contribute to restoring stability to liberated areas, as well as providing humanitarian support to displaced families.”

The Iraqi Minister of Immigration said that the government’s strategy on the matter is to accelerate the process of “bring[ing] destroyed cities back to life” and facilitate the return of IDPs.

In the summer of 2017, Baghdad and Riyadh announced the formation of a “coordination” committee, tasked with the strengthening of strategic ties as part of an effort to repair bilateral relations between the two countries.

Nearly a week ago, Shammari told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat that Iraqi-Saudi relations were “at their best” and that in March, Baghdad would host a meeting between members of the committee, during which the two countries are expected to sign deals that would bring them “even closer.”

Editing by Nadia Riva