Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Iraqi Official: Reconstruction Budget is Essentially ‘Null’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Destroyed buildings are seen in the city of Ramadi, January 16, 2016.REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Baghdad- Infrastructure reconstruction for the Iraqi Anbar Governorate, encompassing much of the country’s western territory, has put forth a stupendous figure, judge Ibrahim al-Janabi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Baghdad has not allocated funds for infrastructure reconstruction within the national budget, al-Janabi added.

Anbar has been leveled to rubble after witnessing fierce clashes between counterterrorism forces, international efforts on one side and terror group ISIS on the other. Since mid-2014, one out of every three structures there has been damaged, with 2,000 completely destroyed.

“The sum required is an approximate $ 9 billion– $3 billion will be allocated for the reconstruction of 45,000 housing units completely destroyed, along with 7,000 housing units partially destroyed,” al-Janabi explained.

As for urban infrastructure, “63 bridges have been left inoperative, and at least 63 severely damaged government institutions, along with the destruction of 200 schools of an original 450,” al-Janabi added.

On the subject of government funds designated for rebuilding, al-Janabi denied the existence of any “significant effort in this regard”.

“Reconstruction budget is zero, austerity and falling oil prices heavily impacted the funding—even though the 2017 budget allotted $23 billion dollars for the whole of development of Anbar, most of the fund is being dispensed for staff salaries and government operations,” said al-Janabi.

The Iraqi government fights to liberate ISIS-held areas have taken place primarily in urban and semi-urban environments, for the most part leading to destructive combat.

During the battle for Ramadi in Anbar Province, which was liberated in February 2016, over 80% of the city was reportedly destroyed.

According to U.N. and provincial assessments, all water, electricity, medical, and sewerage systems suffered moderate-to-severe damage, along with the city’s bridges, government buildings, schools, and hospitals.

Battles with ISIS, however, are not the only source of infrastructure damage. Destruction of civilian homes and local services has become a weapon of revenge for some non-state armed groups, including powerful Iran-backed units within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).