Norway to increase support to Iraq to USD 44 million

'Iraqi cities have been freed from the terrorist group ISIL's control. We are now increasing our aid to the liberated areas, so that even more internally displaced people can return home safely,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide, who is participating today in the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

 The conference is being organised by Iraq and Kuwait in cooperation with the World Bank. Minister of Foreign Affairs Eriksen Søreide will announce that Norway will increase its aid to Iraq for 2018 to NOK 350 million (approx. USD 44 million). Of this amount, NOK 240 million will go to measures to promote stabilisation and reduce fragility. This is an increase of 20 % from last year. NOK 110 million will be used, amongst other efforts, to provide education, improve access to water and sanitation, and put in place protection measures for internally displaced people, vulnerable local communities and Syrian refugees in Iraq.

'We are now entering a challenging transition phase. Some 4.5 million Iraqis are currently living in areas liberated from ISIL's rule of terror. Norway's aim is to support Iraq's efforts to ensure that the vulnerable civilian population has a better future, and to prevent the terrorist group ISIL from gaining a new foothold in the country. Some of the funds from Norway will be used to rebuild homes that have been destroyed, to clear mines and explosives, and to help civilians affected by sexual and gender-based violence,' said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

Ms Eriksen Søreide also emphasised that it is crucial that Iraq carries out political and economic reforms that can help to prevent inequality and instability, and that can promote genuine political reconciliation in Iraq.

Over 2.6 million people are still internally displaced because of ISIL's reign of terror and also because of the fight against the terrorist group. Homes and infrastructure have been destroyed, and there are still a large number of landmines and explosives in the affected areas. This is further exacerbating the situation for those who have already returned and those who are still internally displaced.

According to the UN, around 8.7 million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance. Norway will continue to provide substantial amounts of humanitarian aid.

'Important progress has been made in the fight against the terrorist group ISIL. However, Iraq will continue to need significant support in the time ahead. Many internally displaced people do not yet feel it is safe to return home. Our aim is to enable the safe and voluntary return of these people by supporting stabilisation efforts,' said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

The Government has drawn up a framework for Norway's engagement in conflict prevention, stabilisation and resilience building. Norway has a broad political, humanitarian and military engagement relating to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. As a member of the global coalition against ISIL, Norway is providing both military and civilian support for stabilisation efforts in Iraq.

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