2 billion dollars pledged for Iraq at donor conference

Donor nations pledged 2 billion dollars in support of Iraq at a conference in Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.

Kerry said about a quarter of the money will go toward humanitarian aid. The remainder of the funds are to be used in demining operations and in stabilization and recovery programmes.

In recent months, an estimated 780,000 Iraqis have been able to return to their homes, Kerry said. But 3.3 million more are still displaced and "that's what we are here to deal with."

The purpose of the pledging conference is to assist the government and the people of Iraq to recover as territory is liberated from Islamic State.

"It's important to come in underneath the military liberation with the type of support for rebuilding - for health, for education - to be able to make sure that we are not leaving the door open for a disgruntlement or the revisiting of Daesh that undoes the liberation itself," Kerry said, referring to Islamic State.

The conference was initiated by the US, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan and Kuwait.

The EU said it pledged a 215-million-dollar aid package and echoed Kerry's concern over the millions who are displaced, saying more than half of them are children.

"The humanitarian situation in Iraq risks getting worse without solid international support," said Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

"The European Union is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to get lifesaving supplies to those who need it most as fast as possible," Stylianides said.

The aid package also will help Syrian refugees who fled one conflict to find themselves in another in Iraq, he said.

Kerry said 450 million dollars to be used for humanitarian assistance will go to the United Nations, which has appealed for the aid.

The pledges are part of an overall effort to support the Iraqi people while also addressing security concerns.

"If we do not succeed in Iraq, none of our countries will be safer," Kerry said. "Iraq is connected to Syria, and Daesh is plotting against all of us and already has proven its capacity to attack one way or the other. We are fighting back in every way we can."

Coalition foreign ministers are to meet on Thursday. The new British foreign minister, Boris Johnson, is expected to take part.

Last update: Thu, 21/07/2016 - 11:17

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