NGOs call for emergency funds and transparency for Iraq

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
AMMAN, 20 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - NGOs working in Iraq have called on donors to establish emergency funds that can be disbursed quickly, to provide support for aid workers in dangerous conditions.

This in addition to more transparency and accountability with regards to the trust fund.

The statement was issued by the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) on Tuesday as donors involved in the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, (IRFFI) met at the Dead Sea resort in Jordan on 18-19 July to review progress of reconstruction in Iraq. NGOs were not invited to the meeting.

"The idea was for us to participate and point out our concerns as well as the realities on the ground and that's what we have done through this statement," Kasra Mofarah, NCCI executive coordinator, said.

NGOs, who have attended the previous three Iraq donor meetings in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Japan, say they were surprised that they were not directly involved this time.

"We still don't know why they didn't invite us to the conference. The added value is here and the ideas are here," Mofarah said. The need for contingency funding should be a priority, he added.

"The conflict is so sporadic in Iraq that by the time we wait for funds to be released, the situation for displaced people for example, or people in need, has changed and we are unable to help them during the crucial time," explained Mofarah.

The IRFFI meeting was hosted by the Jordanian government and jointly chaired by Canada and Iraq, bringing together representatives from over 70 countries and international organisations, including the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

They oversee a facility established at the 2003 Madrid conference to better coordinate donor contributions. It consists of two trust funds, separately administered by the WB and the UN in close consultation with the Iraqi authorities and donors.

International donors have only committed a total of US $1 billion to the two trust funds.

A total of $32 billion was pledged at the Madrid conference, with the biggest contribution of $ 18.4 billion from the USA.

A joint UN/World Bank task force then estimated Iraq's reconstruction needs at $36 billion in the period up to 2007.

Of that total, $600 million went to the UN trust fund and the remainder to the WB. The $400 million held in the WB trust fund has been allocated to nine reconstruction projects, including school rebuilding and health care facilities.

At the Dead Sea conference the Iraqi government set out strategic priorities for reconstruction and development with the two areas of governance and basic human needs requiring urgent attention.

"On the one hand, we urgently need emergency/humanitarian interventions to provide basic services such as water, electricity, hospitals and schools," Iraqi minister of planning and development cooperation, Barham Salih, said at the conference.

"On the other hand, we need to start implementing reforms, building institutions and developing the capacities that will support a vibrant market-oriented economy. These interventions need to start immediately but will yield benefits in the medium-term and for generations to come."


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