Pope Francis' historic visit to Iraq highlights remaining needs in areas liberated from ISIL
The historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq is testament to the strength of the Iraqi people in rebuilding their lives post ISIL, but also highlights the urgent, basic remaining needs of 1.2 million Iraqis still displaced from the conflict, says the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.
As the biggest implementer of rehabilitation and stabilization activities in the country, UNDP Iraq has estimated US $660 million is still required to cover Iraq's basic needs, with almost 70% of that apportioned to the Ninewa governorate which was one of the locations of the Pope's visit and encompasses Iraq's historical city of Mosul as well as the Ninewa Plains, home to Iraq's many religious minorities.
"His Holiness Pope Francis' historic, long-awaited visit to Iraq - and in particular - his visit to areas like Mosul that were ravaged by ISIL, is a significant marker of peace, hope and unity for the Iraqi people," says Resident Representative of UNDP Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.
"It is also an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the critical remaining needs of Iraqis across the five liberated areas. These urgent needs must be addressed to allow Iraq's sustainable recovery from one of the most brutal conflicts in the country's recent history-paving the way towards durable solutions in Iraq.
"It's been three years since Iraq was officially liberated from ISIL, and while there has been many achievements in bringing more than 4.6m Iraqis home, we cannot forget about the 1.2 million people who remain the 'hardest to return', or ignore the remaining needs like water, electricity, housing and healthcare of all Iraqis who have suffered from the conflict, " she says.
To date, with generous support from the international community and the Government of Iraq, UNDP has implemented more than 2,700 stabilization projects in Iraq, which include the restoration of basic infrastructure and services, as well as short term employment opportunities, local capacity strengthening and social cohesion activities, benefiting more than 11 million Iraqis.
In Mosul alone, where daily life has resumed for many communities, UNDP Iraq, through its partners have restored more than 7,000 houses, 147 schools, 46 university buildings, 8 water treatment plants, 39 electricity networks, and one major hospital, with another 5 underway.
Collectively, these efforts have benefited 5.5 million Moslawis. UNDP has a strong presence in areas populated by religious minority groups, having completed more than 500 projects in locations such as Al Qosh, Bartela, Bashiqa, Batnaya, Hamdaniya, Karamless, Telesqof, Sinjar and Sinuni.