Iraq has recently seen military successes in combating the terrorist group IS but the situation remains fragile. Germany is already involved in stabilising the country, particularly the liberated areas. An international Pledging Conference in Washington on 20 July is now to channel increased support to the country. In the run-up to the Conference, Joachim Rücker, Special Representative of the Federal Government for the Middle East Stability Partnership, visited Iraq from 10 to 13 July.
Terrorist group leaves chaos and misery in its wake
The suffering that the terrorist group IS causes to people takes on many different forms. Millions leave their homes due to the armed combat. In areas controlled by the terrorists, the most dreadful violations of human rights are committed. After military defeat, the IS leaves chaos and misery in its wake. The stabilisation process thus needs to make areas from which the IS has fled habitable for civilians as quickly as possible. Priority tasks are rebuilding schools, electricity and water supplies, mine clearance and setting up a functioning police force.
Visit to Baghdad and Erbil
During his visit, Special Representative Rücker spent time in the capital Baghdad and also in the north of the country. In talks with local representatives, he gained a comprehensive insight into the political, economic and humanitarian situation in Iraq. “We must continue to work with those who are on the ground in central Iraq. I mean here the provincial governors and mayors, the United Nations and also NGOs such as the German NGO Rebuild and Relief International”, as Rücker underscored.
Camp full beyond capacity
For Rücker, his visit to the Debaga refugee camp near Erbil in the north of the country was particularly telling. In the first few days of July alone, some 6000 new internally displaced persons arrived at the camp. He was particularly concerned to see that the camp was now full beyond capacity. “A sport stadium near the camp is now accommodating thousands of people, the UNHCR is now setting up Debaga 2, a tent landscape to coordinate supplies. That makes abundantly clear the sheer scale of the humanitarian challenge in Iraq and how much the country needs additional support from the international community”.
Return as quickly as possible
Given the military successes of the Iraqi armed forces, most recently in Fallujah, the Special Representative emphasized the need “to give the people on the ground a prospect for the future and enable the internally displaced to return as quickly as possible. (...) We are talking about removing booby traps, repairing roads, houses, electricity and water supplies. But we are also talking about ”emotional reconstruction“, about confidence between the groups in Iraq, about reconciliation based on truth”. Rücker drew the following message from his talks with the internally displaced on the ground: “They all want to return as quickly as possible, the teacher from Qayara who swam across the Tigris, the widow from Makhmur whose husband was killed by the IS, the family from al‑Shirqat whose house has survived”.
Germany as co-host
In the liberated areas, Germany is already providing comprehensive support. After the liberation of the town of Fallujah, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR is to receive an additional five million euros of emergency aid. The Federal Foreign Office is also making available up to 25 million euros for stabilisation work, particularly in the field of mine clearance. Germany is one of the co‑hosts of the international Pledging Conference in Washington on 20 July.