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Press Release

Iraqis need ‘more than buildings and roads’, says aid agency ahead of vital reconstruction conference

The Iraqi people must directly benefit from all investments and be at the heart of all decisions made at the Iraqi reconstruction conference taking place in Kuwait tomorrow, says the International Rescue Committee.

“The Iraqi people need more than buildings and roads to get back on their feet” says Wendy Taeuber, International Rescue Committee’s Iraq Country Director. “Vulnerable Iraqis need jobs, quality education and health care, and fair access to government assistance, including compensation for the immense losses they experienced during the conflict. This conference is an opportunity to focus on the issues that matter most to those who paid the heaviest price.”

The war against ISIS not only devastated the country’s infrastructure but also the lives of the Iraqi people. 2.6 million people remain displaced across Iraq, many in deteriorating camp conditions without the ability to come and go as they wish.

Recent IRC assessments in retaken areas estimate that over half of people in Mosul are unemployed and in the town of al Qaim in western Anbar, nearly a quarter of people are missing the ID documents theyneed to register for government assistance, send their children to school, or move freely across the country.

Although 3.2 million Iraqis have returned to areas retaken from ISIS, many locations are still unsafe due to unexploded mines and booby traps, ongoing threats from armed groups, and community tensions. There is also a continued lack of government services and jobs, which people need to support their families. Without more support and safety, people may not be able to return permanently and risk being displaced once again.

By June 2017, the UN estimated that ninety per cent of children in areas affected by fighting were out of school. After years of war the IRC wants to see more investment in the children and youth as the future of Iraq and psychological support to help people overcome the trauma they have faced.

The issue of suitable compensation for civilians caught up in the fight to defeat ISIS also needs to be addressed. A recent study by Associated Press calculated at least 9,000 civilians were killed and the UN estimates that nearly 80% of the destroyed sites in Mosul were people’s homes.

“The civilian cost to retake Iraqi cities from ISIS was huge,” said Taeuber. “Thousands of people lost their loved ones, were injured, or had their homes damaged or destroyed. Compensating them for these losses as Iraqi law requires is an important way to build trust in the government and help people begin to recover. But the damage has been overwhelming and Coalition members also have a responsibility to step up to support Iraq with this important effort.”

The IRC has worked in Iraq since 2009, providing consistent support to Iraqi civilians. In 2017 the IRC supported over 192,000 Iraqis affected by the conflict and displaced by military operations, and is expanding programming in retaken areas such as west Mosul, Hawija, and Ana.

Read the IRC’s full briefing paper, ‘Supporting Iraqis to Recover and Rebuild their lives’ and recommendations for the Kuwait conference organizers and participants here.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.