Belgium has allocated 7.6 million euros this year for humanitarian reconstruction in Iraq, Development Cooperation Minister Alexander De Croo said on Tuesday. De Croo (Open Vld) is on a visit to Iraq, which needs to rebuild after the occupation of about half of its territory by the Islamic State terror group.
The sum of 4 million euros, more than half the total, is earmarked for the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Another 1.6 million euros will go to Handicap International and one million each to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP).
Belgium focuses its efforts in Iraq mainly on education and health care, said De Croo, who is on a humanitarian visit to Iraq with the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Christos Stylianides.
“You can beat Islamic State with weapons, but if you really want to make it disappear, you have to win back hearts,” De Croo said, stressing the need to give people a chance to rebuild their lives so that extremism does find fertile ground once more.
“Everyone will have to make an effort, including the Iraqis,” he said, adding that he felt “a page has been turned.”
Since the start of the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group, Belgium has already allocated 41.6 million euros in direct humanitarian aid to Iraq.