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$88.2B price tag for rebuilding Iraq after Islamic State war

AP  |  Kuwait City 

today opened a week of conferences seeking aid for rebuilding after the onslaught of the Islamic State group, seeking tens of billions of dollars for a nation only a generation ago that invaded it.

Authorities estimate needs USD 88.2 billion to restore a country smashed after the Sunni extremists seized the country's second-largest city of and a mass of territory in June 2014.

"We finished one battle but we are engaged now with a war for reconstruction," said Mustafa al-Hiti, the of Iraq's reconstruction fund for areas affected by terrorist operations.

Among the hardest-hit areas is Mosul, which Iraqi forces, aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and a US-led coalition, recaptured in July 2017.

Their victory came at a steep cost for Mosul, as coalition airstrikes and destroyed homes and government buildings.

Of the money needed, Iraqi officials estimate USD 17 billion alone needs to go toward rebuilding homes, the biggest single line item offered today on the first day of meetings.

The estimates 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in alone.

"The majority of the damage was to western as it went through one of the worst and fiercest battles in history," said Nofal al-Akoub, the of Iraq's Nineveh province. It "led to the total destruction of its infrastructure."

Al-Akoub said USD 42 billion was needed for his province alone, as it is home to Mosul. needs some USD 20 billion now to begin its reconstruction, al-Hiti said.

The war against the Islamic State group displaced more than 5 million people. Only half have returned to their hometowns in Iraq.

However, officials acknowledge a feeling of from international donors, especially after the wars in Iraq and sparked the biggest mass migration since World War II.

himself today tweeted that was "so stupidly spending USD 7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR country." Even in Kuwait, some questioned why more wasn't being done in their own country.

Billions of dollars poured into Iraq after the 2003 US- led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, with what feels now like little visible effect.

The US alone spent USD 60 billion over nine years, some USD 15 million a day, to rebuild Iraq.

Around USD 25 billion went to Iraq's military, which disintegrated during the lightning 2014 offensive of the Islamic State group, which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq.

auditors also found massive waste and corruption, fueling suspicions of Western politicians like Trump who want to scale back foreign aid.

Meanwhile, the as a whole, especially countries like whose deep pockets rely on oil production, have taken a hit in recent years as crashed and only recently began regaining ground.

Kuwait, hosting the conferences this week, has a deep interest in seeing a stable Iraq, especially after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of their small, It announced USD 330 million alone had been pledged today for Iraq at a humanitarian conference in City.

That money is desperately needed as more than 4 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance while 3 million are unable to regularly go to school in Iraq, said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and

One out of four Iraqi children across the country live in poverty in the nation of 37 million people.

"There may be donor fatigue, but no one today can tell me there isn't money. There is money to continue fighting, there is money to continue agendas that are not serving children," Cappelaere said. "What we are asking today is to put that money where children's interests are and we may get in the a much-brighter future."

But Iraq needs more than just cash as thousands remain held after the rout of the Islamic State group, including women and children.

It must renew its embrace of the rule of law, as well as provide answers to families whose loved ones went missing in the war, said Katharina Ritz, the of the delegation in Iraq for the

"We know that many people think about, 'OK, it's the second time we have to rebuild Iraq,' ... (but) we have to get it right this time for the Iraqi people," Ritz said.

"This will take time and probably it will also take generations to deal with the past, because if you look at the future, you also have to look back," she added.

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

First Published: Mon, February 12 2018. 21:15 IST