Alexander De Croo makes 7.6 million euros available for humanitarian aid in Iraq

On February 19th, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo made a field visit to Mosul together with the European Commissioner for Human Aid Stylianides. From 2014 to 2017 the Iraqi city was in the hands of ISIS. Because of violent clashes, almost one million people were forced to flee Mosul. 400.000 of them have still not returned. Minister De Croo has announced that our country will make 7.6 million euros available for humanitarian aid in Iraq.

During the last five years, the war against ISIS in Iraq has caused one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world. Almost six million people fled, 1.8 million people are still displaced. Iraq also shelters about 250.000 Syrian war refugees, primarily in the Kurdish areas.

In the meantime, the humanitarian needs in cities like Mosul remain particularly high. The majority of children has not gone to school in many years. The economy lies in ruins and poverty rates are double as high in the former ISIS areas as they are elsewhere in the country. Hospitals have been destroyed or rendered unsafe because of remaining explosives. Many people are struggling with mental health issues or are recovering from strong sexual violence.

More than 40 million euros

During his visit to Mosul, Minister De Croo declared that Belgium will provide 7.6 million euros for direct aid to Iraq. Four million will go to the humanitarian fund for Iraq of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 1 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) and 1.6 million to Handicap International in support of the return of displaced people in Kirkuk. The total amount of the direct humanitarian contributions of Belgium to Iraq since the beginning of the battle against ISIS now amounts to 41.6 million euros.

Apart from these direct humanitarian contributions, our country also allocates 23.25 million euros of humanitarian funding to the general resources of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNHCR, WFP, UNOCHA on a yearly basis. Every year, another 26 million euros of non-earmarked humanitarian contributions go to global humanitarian funds. Since 2015 the European Commission has spent in total of 420 million euros on humanitarian aid in Iraq through her humanitarian organization ECHO. About 4% of ECHO’s budget comes from Belgium.