Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

US Boosts Support for Religious, Ethnic Minorities in Iraq

US Boosts Support for Religious, Ethnic Minorities in Iraq

Wednesday, 17 October, 2018 - 10:15

The United States announced over $178 million in foreign assistance to support vulnerable communities in Iraq as part of its foreign aid program.

This brings total US assistance for this population to nearly $300 million since Fiscal Year 2017, implemented by both the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The preservation of Iraq’s rich historical pluralism is critical to reintegrating persecuted ethnic and religious minority communities into a peaceful Iraq,” US State Department said in a press statement on Tuesday.

“US efforts to meet this objective span government agencies and are being implemented urgently, in close partnership with local faith and community leaders,” the statement said.

It showed that in order to meet immediate needs, it has spent over $51 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to populations from the Ninewa Plain and western Ninewa, including safe drinking water, food, shelter materials and household items, medical care and psychosocial support.

The Department pointed out that its efforts also focused on helping restore communities. Therefore, it has spent nine million dollars in funding to support early recovery needs and restore access to services like health and education.

It contributed to promoting economic recovery by providing $68 million in funding to improve access to jobs and markets, support local businesses and revive the local economy in addition to five million dollars to prevent future atrocities that address systemic issues affecting minority populations and prevent future atrocities.

In regards to clearing the Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), the US has spent approximately $37 million plus survey, clearance, and risk education in and around minority communities.

This support has enabled the Department to significantly expand the number of US-funded ERW survey, clearance, and risk education teams across Ninewa and fulfills the Secretary’s pledge to expand ERW clearance efforts in Iraqi minority communities made at the July 2018 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

As for the social, economic and political empowerment, the US provided $8.5 million in additional assistance to projects that provide psychosocial services, legal support, and initiatives to help collect evidence of human rights abuses, increase minority representation in local and provincial government, increase access to justice for children, strengthen rule of law and provide livelihoods support and access to economic opportunities for vulnerable groups bringing the FY 2017 total to $18.5 million.

It also contributed to preserving historic and cultural heritage sites in Northern Iraq, where they were targeted for destruction by ISIS and other terrorist groups.

The Department spent two million dollars to safeguard, preserve and restore access to significant cultural heritage sites of minority communities.

Editor Picks