KUWAIT (Reuters) – Rebuilding Iraq after three years of war with Islamic State will cost $88.2 billion, with housing a particularly urgent priority, Iraqi officials told an international conference on Monday.
Donors and investors have gathered in Kuwait this week to discuss efforts to rebuild Iraq’s economy and infrastructure as it emerges from a devastating conflict with the hardline militants who seized almost a third of the country.
Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December, having taken back all the territory captured by the militants in 2014 and 2015.
About $22 billion will be required in the short term and another $66 billion in the medium term, the director-general of the country’s planning ministry, Qusay Adulfattah, told the conference, without indicating any timeframe.
“Rebuilding Iraq is restoring hope to Iraq, and restoring the stability of Iraq is stabilizing the states of the region and the world,” said Planning Minister Salman al-Jumaili, adding that the reconstruction was therefore also the responsibility of the international community.
The United States, which leads an international coalition that provided Iraq with key air support in the fight against Islamic State, does not plan to pledge any money at the Kuwait conference, U.S. officials said.
Nations could help by acting as guarantors with lenders, allowing Iraq to take out soft loans to fund infrastructure projects, Mahdi al-Alaq, the Secretary-General of Iraq’s Council of Ministers, told the conference, adding that there were preliminary indications that some states would do so.
The housing sector has the most urgent need for funds, said Raja Rehan Arshad, the lead disaster risk management specialist for the World Bank.
Around 138,000 housing units had been damaged and half of them were completely destroyed, said Mustafa al-Hiti, who runs Iraq’s Reconstruction Fund for Areas Affected by Terroristic Operations.
About 2.5 million Iraqis remain displaced by the fighting, he added.
Iraq has been plagued by violence over the past 15 years.
A U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein and was followed by years of insurgency, sectarian bloodletting between Sunnis and Shi’ites, as well as ethnic tensions between the Arabs and Kurds, all before Islamic State emerged in 2014.