On July 20, representatives from 24 countries pledged more than $2.1 billion in foreign aid to Iraq at a Washington, D.C. conference co-hosted by the U.S., Canada, Japan, Kuwait, Germany and the Netherlands. The U.S. had hoped to raise around $2 billion in foreign aid to Iraq. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said that the results of the meeting exceeded expectations, with $2.1 billion in confirmed pledges and more pending approval.
Coverage of the pledging conference indicates that countries recognize the need to help Iraq achieve long-term stability in addition to carrying out military operations against the Islamic State. Public Finance International reported that the donor meeting aimed specifically to deal with the fallout of an expected assault on the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is likely to be the largest yet.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the U.N. estimates the humanitarian assistance needed after the attack at $284 million and reconstruction costs at $1.8 billion. In total, the country needs $4.5 billion.
Canada was among the first to come forward with a pledge. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion announced $158 million CAD, or $121 million, in foreign aid to Iraq at the meeting, with $150 million CAD going towards humanitarian needs and $8 million CAD reserved for de-mining and helping refugees.
The conflict has seen 3.3 million Iraqis displaced. In addition to addressing the country’s current crisis, Canada is also donating $200 million CAD to the World Bank, which will be available to the Iraq government as a loan to assist with economic reforms.
The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development pledged $66 million. The European Commission (EC), the European Union’s executive body, gave $215.5 million, and Kuwait also contributed $176 million. Neven Mimica, the European commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, told Public Finance International that the EU hopes to provide humanitarian assistance as well as improve public spending on infrastructure in the country.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, which pledged $1.3 million at the conference and is the largest donor of foreign aid to Iraq, emphasized the importance of continued assistance. “We cannot lose the momentum of our efforts to stabilize Iraq now,” he said.
The $2.1 billion raised at the July 20 conference went above and beyond the $861 million the U.N. had appealed for Iraq. It is encouraging to see that countries in the coalition against the Islamic State, including the U.S., start to focus their efforts on humanitarian aid and long-term development.
– Philip Katz