$2.1bn pledged for Iraq, but will Kurdistan get its share?

Iraq, July 24, 2016

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is concerned that, while it hosts nearly 2 million internally displaced Iraqis and is a key force on the frontlines in the war against the Islamic State, it will not get its share of the $2.1 billion pledged for Iraq at a conference in Washington this week.

“We are talking to the international community to respect the great responsibility that the Kurdistan Region is facing regarding the ISIS war and the refugee crisis,” Falah Mustafa, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s foreign relations department, told Rudaw English.

The money was pledged during a meeting of members of the global coalition fighting the Islamic State, held in Washington this week. “Pledges from these international donors will go to four critical need areas in Iraq: humanitarian assistance, de-mining, UNDP funding facility for immediate stabilization, and the funding facility for expanded stabilization,” Elizabeth Trudeau, US State Department spokesperson, told reporters at a briefing on Friday.

The Kurdistan Region is hosting some 1.8 million registered refugees and internally displaced (IDPs), though Mustafa said the actual number is much higher, and growing.

“There are other refugees and IDPs that have not been documented yet. The number is rising because, just two weeks ago, some 30,000 IDPs fled from west of Makhmour to Debaga camp,” he explained, adding “We are expecting more IDPs arriving in Kurdistan when the Mosul operation starts.”

Despite the Kurdistan Region hosting nearly 2 million of Iraq’s own people, Baghdad has not given any assistance to Erbil for their care.

“What we see is that Baghdad doesn’t care that it is responsible for what happened in Iraq and in Kurdistan,” said Mustafa. He indicated that, as a result, Erbil is turning its focus to engage directly with the international community.

“That’s why we are focusing on the international community to help us with this situation, to recognize our efforts,” he said. He appealed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the G7 nations to work directly with the region and “to respect what the Kurdistan Region deserves.”

“But Iraq, how much money Iraq has got so far from IMF, from the World Bank, they have not provided anything to the Kurdistan Region. Maybe they have given something to some NGOs or organizations but to the KRG, no.”

At the State Department press briefing, spokesperson Trudeau was asked how the United States would ensure that the money pledged for Iraq would not go into the pockets of individuals in Baghdad and that the Kurdistan Region would get its share.

That is a conversation the US continues to have with nations around the world, Trudeau answered, noting that it was too early to say exactly where the money will go. “What we will say, which we have always said, is that the funding and the support will go through Baghdad. But we are very aware of the impact that certain areas of the country have experienced at the hands of Daesh [ISIS].”