Kuwait pledges $2 billion for rebuilding Iraq

Top US diplomat urges unity among Arab Gulf States

The emir of Kuwait pledged $2 billion towards the reconstruction of neighbouring Iraq, at an worldwide donors' conference in Kuwait City on Wednesday.

Kuwait City, Feb 14 Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today pledged $5 billion in loans and investment for Iraq's reconstruction after its devastating three-year war with the Islamic State group.

Baghdad says it needs almost $90 billion to rebuild after three years of war with the Islamic State group devastated homes, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.

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Saudi Arabia has pledged $1.5 billion to help rebuild Iraq after the war with the Islamic State group. Separately, partners are seeking Dollars 569 million to provide life-saving assistance to 3.4 million highly vulnerable people across Iraq through the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan.

The United States, which has been embroiled in Iraq since its 2003 invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, did not directly give at the conference Wednesday in Kuwait City. Saudi Arabia pledged $1.5 billion.

The reconstruction conference was taking place two weeks before Kuwait celebrates its Liberation Day from Iraq, which invaded in 1990, leading to defeat by a US-led coalition and more than a decade of sanctions against Baghdad.

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Iraq, which still owes Kuwait reparations from the 1991 Gulf War, declared victory over IS in December, having taken back all the territory the militant group captured in 2014 and 2015.

Iraqi officials estimate that the biggest chunk of the money needed, around $17 billion, is required exclusively to rebuild homes.

Dozens of countries around the world have participated in the conference with the aim to invest and provide aid to the war-torn country. The United Nations estimates 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in Mosul alone. Only half of them have returned to their home towns. The package will be structured so that the initial amount could rise to as much as $5 billion over several years. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended the meeting, but skipped a group photograph held before.

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Influenza-like illness activity is at 7.7 percent breaking the 2003/4 high of 7.6 for a non-pandemic year. Pediatric flu deaths also continue to rise, with 63 children now dead from the flu so far this season.

For his part, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged all his country's neighbors to contribute.

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