Donor nations note progress in Iraq

Participants at the opening of a follow-up meeting for donor nations pledging financial aid to Iraq have stressed progress is being made in the war-torn country despite the perilous security situation.

    UN official Ross Mountain remains hopeful

    Funds of $230 million have been approved for projects and programmes since the Abu Dhabi meeting three months ago, said UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Iraq, Ross Mountain, on Tuesday.

    Japan is chairing the two-day International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) meeting in Qatar.

    Representatives of 35 nations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the United Nations and the World Bank are participating in the talks to review progress in spending and reconstruction.

    The reconstruction fund for Iraq has commitments of more than $1 billion to be divided between United Nations and World Bank trust funds.

    "While the needs are extremely great, this fund does not pretend that it will be able to meet all those needs," Mountain told Aljazeera.net.

    "We are hopeful now that with additional governments represented here, who are so far not contributing to the fund, we may be able to increase the amount that will come through the international institutions." 

    Participants announced that only one country, Finland, would be joining the donor committee and it would be representing countries pledging less than $10 million. Membership is open to states that have contributed at least $10 million.

    Attending for the first time were B

    elgium, Chile, France, Germany, Jordan, the Netherlands, Russia, Iran, Ukraine and Kuwait

    Pledges withheld

    The UN has pledges for about $600 million, which Mountain points out "is not always the same as money". Some of the donors have not come forward and paid their promised contributions, he said, adding the world body is encouraging them to do so.

     

    "I think many donors are watching the situation with concern and need to be shown that indeed programmes can continue," said Mountain.  

    More than $30 billion has already
    been pledged to rebuild Iraq

    Since the Abu Dhabi meeting, a spate of kidnappings of foreigners swept Iraq, high-profile Iraqis supporting the US-led occupation were killed and clashes erupted between occupation troops and followers of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

    The security situation poses complications for "external actors to provide the full support that we would like," said Mountain, and it has posed a major obstacle. 

    "Am I satisfied with the speed, am I satisfied with what we've been able to do so far? Certainly not. We really recognise that there are a great many, many more needs than we have been able to meet and I would certainly much rather we be able to move faster," said Mountain.

    Cluster scheme

    A total of $33 billion were pledged at the first donors' conference in Madrid in October 2003. Since then, Iraqi officials say donors have been reluctant to pay up due to the deteriorating security situation.

    In the light of security, the UN is working in clusters which group Iraqi authorities, non-governmental organisations, communities and donors focusing on 10 areas.

    These sectors include education and culture, health, water and sanitation, infrastructure and housing, agriculture, water resources and environment, food security, mine action, internally displaced persons and refugees, governance and civil society, and poverty reduction and human development.

    Donor countries to the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq who have committed $1 billion are:

    Australia, Britain, Canada, the European Commission, Finland, Greece, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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