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Iraq recovery at risk without more effective aid, warn aid agencies

July 9, 2010

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A group of aid agencies has today warned that if aid support from the EU and UK government for Iraq continues to fall, it could pose a serious risk to the country’s recovery.

Seventeen international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including UK-based Mercy Corps and the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI), today launched Fallen Off the Agenda? More and better aid needed for Iraq recovery, highlighting that Iraq is still extremely fragile, ranking in the top ten of the 2010 index of failed states (see note 1). It remains volatile, rife with corruption and is struggling to rebuild after decades of sanctions and war. Yet attention and support for Iraq is presently waning and budgets have been slashed. The European Commission and the United Kingdom, for example, have drastically reduced their aid budgets for Iraq (see note 2).

Mervyn Lee, Executive Director of Mercy Corps said:

“Iraq is at a critical and difficult juncture, struggling to rebuild itself, and without enough of the right kind of support the country could once again unravel. Effective aid delivery and development assistance from the international community is still absolutely necessary to prevent that from happening.

“The international community – and that includes us here in the UK and countries throughout the European Union – have a moral obligation to make sure millions of Iraqis have a fighting chance for a stable, secure future. Long-term commitment and large-scale investment is critical to help pull the people of Iraq back onto their feet.”

The Iraqi public sector remains seriously impaired, say the agencies, unable to deliver quality basic service such as water, electricity, adequate healthcare and war widows’ pensions to millions of people in the country. Despite the country’s oil reserves, the Government of Iraq does not yet have the capacity to effectively manage its potential, nor to efficiently respond to the most basic needs of the population. Furthermore, the government’s ability to deliver basic public services relies almost completely on global oil price fluctuations.

As a result, the agencies also called for aid to focus on developing and working in partnership with local Iraqi community and civil society organisations.

Fyraz Mawazini, Executive Coordinator of the NCCI, said:

“Working to support and develop Iraqi civil society organisations is absolutely critical to provide essential services to the population, at the same time as reinforcing the capacity of the government. This will strengthen Iraq's governance, the government’s accountability, and facilitate local communities’ participation in the recovery process, which is key to ensure sustainable progress and development. Many Iraqi community organisations do not have yet the maturity, capacity and means to take on humanitarian, development and human rights challenges alone. More cooperation and partnership with the international community is needed to build a comprehensive, strong and independent civil society in Iraq, leading to a fully fledged democracy and more stable future for the country as a whole.”

Note 1: The Failed States Index 2010, Foreign Policy and The Fund for Peace.
Note 2: The DFID budget for aid and development in Iraq, which was already seen as insufficient (£20 m for 2009-10), has been halved for 2010-11. In 2010, the European Commission budget for the development and cooperation with Iraq has also been halved (from €72.6 million for 2008 to €65,8 million Euros for 2009 and 2010). The European Commission budget for humanitarian aid for Iraq and for the 1.7 million Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries in 2010 (€18 million) has also been reduced compared to last year (€20 million).

For further details (including a full list of the agencies involved in publishing this breifing) or to arrange an interview, contact Erin Gray, Mercy Corps European Headquarters Press Officer on 0131 662 5164 / 07917532954 or email egray@uk.mercycorps.org

More_and_Better_Aid_Needed_for_Iraq_Recovery_-Brief.pdf