Iraq Germany is supporting reconstruction and reforms
The political situation in Iraq is currently still characterised by instability and the country is deep in the midst of an economic crisis. In 2014, there were more than six million people who had been displaced from their homes either through the activities of the terrorist organisation calling itself “Islamic State” (IS) or as a result of the battles between the IS and Iraqi government forces. Although most of them have now returned to their home towns, there are still 1.2 million internally displaced persons in Iraq. More than four million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the burdens that Iraq is facing. It is the second worst hit country in the region after Iran.
Iraq is one of the so-called nexus and peace partners of German development cooperation. German activities in Iraq were initially focused on supporting Syrian refugees, internally displaced Iraqis and the communities in northern and central Iraq that were hosting especially large numbers of displaced persons and refugees. Now that the IS has been pushed back, the focus of cooperation has shifted to put more emphasis on rebuilding the country and promoting long-term reform processes.
German development cooperation with Iraq
Germany responded to the refugee crisis in Iraq quickly with support tailored to meet the country’s needs and has made available more than two billion euros since 2014. This makes Germany the second biggest international donor after the US. About 1.7 billion euros of the total is from the budget of the Development Ministry.
In 2020, the BMZ made almost 325 million euros available for development cooperation with Iraq and new commitments of more than 300 million euros are planned for 2021, too.
Aims of German activities
The only way that lasting stability and a successful return of all internally displaced persons can be achieved is through transparent governance and peaceful coexistence of the various population groups. In order for long-term income prospects and employment to be created, the economy must lose a good degree of its dependence on oil and the government needs to harness other sources of income.
German-Iraqi cooperation is therefore focused on supporting efforts to overcome and prevent crises, promoting good governance and assisting with the development of the private sector. The BMZ is currently financing 58 individual measures in Iraq.
An overview of German activities
BMZ programme “Returning to New Opportunities”
Under the framework of the BMZ programme “Returning to New Opportunities”, centres for jobs, migration and reintegration have been set up in Erbil and Baghdad. These centres serve as a first point of call for returnees, but are also open to local people. The centres offer information about the assistance available for reintegration into Iraqi society and can assist with job searches or setting up a new business. They also have information about psychosocial support programmes. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the centres have been offering digital training courses and online advisory services.
Further information about what the programme offers in Germany and in Iraq can be found on the online platform “Startfinder (External link)”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation in Iraq even worse. At the start of the pandemic, there were just 45,000 hospital beds and about 850 intensive care beds available in public hospitals to serve the population of about 40 million. With support from the international community, the Iraqi government made massive investments in health care. This has made it less likely that the health system will be temporarily overwhelmed.
However, the government is not able to do much to mitigate the economic and social impacts of the crisis. The fall in the price of oil and the resulting tight budget situation has meant that it has little financial scope for economic stimulus.
In response to the health and income crisis, the BMZ has adapted ongoing projects and started new ones. More than 61 million euros has been made available for this purpose (as at: March 2021). In order to mitigate the impacts for refugees and internally displaced persons, investments have been made, inter alia, in health infrastructure in the Region of Kurdistan-Iraq. A German Epidemic Preparedness (SEEG) Team was also sent there to improve coronavirus diagnostics.
Temporary clinics with intensive care units are being built, with assistance from Germany, in Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah, Mosul and Basra. This investment will significantly improve the possibilities for treating intensive care patients in Iraq. As part of two GIZ projects, especially needy households have received cash transfers or temporary support payments. New commitments for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are being used in part for employment programmes, in order to cushion the economic fallout from the pandemic.