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Devastated Iraq seeks USD 90 billion for reconstruction

AFP  |  Kuwait City 

needs nearly USD 90 billion to rebuild after three years of war with the Islamic State group, officials said today, with large parts of the country in ruins and tens of thousands left homeless. As a three-day international reconstruction conference got underway in Kuwait, officials were seeking pledges from donors and investors to restore Iraq's devastated homes, schools, hospitals and declared victory against IS in December, after Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, regained control of the large parts of the country seized by IS in mid-2014. made pledges of USD 330 million on the first day of the conference, but officials said much more was needed. Planning said an assessment by Iraqi and international experts put reconstruction costs at USD 88.2 billion. "The funds will be initially used to reintegrate displaced people and also for rebuilding the infrastructure of public services," the told AFP. Mustafa al-Hiti, the of Iraq's reconstruction fund, said some work had started but that funds were needed urgently to restore and services in many provinces. "What we have accomplished is less than one percent of what needs," Hiti said. "We have more than 138,000 houses damaged, more than half this number completely destroyed," Hiti said, adding that more than 2.5 million Iraqis are still displaced. After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of IS, Iraqi forces regrouped with foreign help, eventually forcing the jihadists out of territory including second city But the fightback left much of the country devastated. In entire city blocks were reduced to rubble. The IS takeover also dealt a heavy blow to Iraq's economy. The country sits on some of the world's largest crude reserves, which puts at 153 billion barrels, but the war and a slump in world prices have diminished its oil revenues. of the said investment is required across sectors, with more than USD 17.4 billion needed for alone. Nearly USD 30 billion is needed to restore and industrial infrastructure, he said. The conference brings together hundreds of representatives of countries, aid groups, UN agencies and corporations. The USD 330 million pledged by non-governmental organisations on Monday included USD 130 million from the The UN refugee agency said the conference offered a "unique opportunity" to help displaced Iraqis rebuild their lives. "Sustainable return is not just about bricks and mortar," Bruno Geddo, UNHCR's in Iraq, said in a statement. "Rebuilding and restoring communities is a complex effort, covering everything from clearing explosive hazards to repairing damage to infrastructure to restoring basic services, and facilitating social cohesion so that communities can again begin to flourish." UN agencies UNICEF and UN-Habitat called for urgent investment to restore and services for children and families. "Violence may have subsided in Iraq, but it has upended the lives of millions across the country, leaving one in four children in poverty and pushing families to extreme measures to survive," they said in a joint statement. The called for investment in hospitals and other medical facilities, pointing to more than 14 hospitals and 170 health facilities destroyed. Tomorrow the conference will focus on private sector investment while on Wednesday national leaders are expected to announce governmental aid packages. French Foreign Jean-Yves Le Drian, whose country is a key member of the anti-IS coalition, visited today ahead of attending the conference. "I have come to tell you of France's support and to accompany you.

We will always be there. We were there to participate in the coalition. We will also be there in the reconstruction phase," Le Drian said after landing in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 12 2018. 20:05 IST