Iraq reconstruction conference opens in Kuwait
By Khalid al-Taie
An international conference on the reconstruction of Iraq opened in Kuwait on Monday (February 12th), with representatives from 70 countries and thousands of companies and international organisations in attendance.
On the first day of the conference, Iraqi Planning Minister Salman al-Jumaili announced that Iraq will need $88.2 billion to rebuild in the aftermath of its war against the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), AFP reported.
This estimate is based on an assessment study by Iraqi and international experts, he said.
Qusai Abdelfattah, director general at the Planning Ministry, said $22 billion of those funds were needed immediately and the rest for the medium term.
The Iraqi government is counting on this forum to get support for its plans to reinvigorate cities damaged by ISIS and to help develop the country's economy, officials told Diyaruna.
The government has prepared well for the conference and "will provide a clear vision of the country's urgent need for reconstruction in various fields", Planning Ministry spokesman Abdul Zahra al-Hindawi told Diyaruna.
Iraq to present three papers
The Iraqi delegation, which includes government officials, civil society activists and media figures, will present three papers to the conference, al-Hindawi said.
One sets out "a strategic reconstruction plan spanning the next 10 years", he said, noting that "well thought out programmes and work plans have been developed to rebuild public projects and citizens’ private property".
These are expected to cost an estimated $100 billion, according to data from a Planning Ministry field survey, al-Hindawi said.
"The second paper is a comprehensive file on the damage in the cities ISIS has invaded that includes pictures, documents and data," he said.
This will enable conference participants to see the full extent of the destruction.
The third paper presents a "map of investment opportunities available to the international companies participating in the conference", he said.
"We have more than 200 projects in several areas of development that are offered for investment competition and are spread across all provinces," he noted.
'An important turning point'
Representatives from 2,850 international companies are attending the conference, along with 3,000 representatives from UN agencies and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), al-Hindawi said.
The three-day conference will include a series of sessions, including an "Invest in Iraq" session for company representatives, businessmen and investors.
Another session will bring together national civil society organisations with their international counterparts to discuss support for humanitarian relief efforts in areas liberated from ISIS, al-Hindawi said.
Participants in this session also will explore ways to enhance opportunities for building peace and stability in these areas, he added.
Ahead of the conference's opening, an exhibition of photographs documenting the ruins and tragedies ISIS left behind opened Sunday in Kuwait's Museum of Modern Art.
The conference will conclude on Wednesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi, Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah, the Secretary-General of the UN, the President of the World Bank and the European Union co-ordinator in attendance.
"At the conclusion of the conference, each country will announce the amount of its financial contribution to the reconstruction and its companies’ investments in the proposed projects," he said.
"Many countries before the conference have showed positive stands and pledges of support," he noted. "This forum is an important turning point in Iraq’s history and we hope that it will help us overcome all challenges."