Destroyed buildings from previous clashes are seen in Mosul, Iraq January 28, 2018. Picture taken January 28, 2018. (Khalid Al-Mousily/REUTERS)

Canada pledges $12M for rebuilding newly liberated areas of Iraq

Canada is contributing $12 million to help rebuild areas of northern and western Iraq recently liberated from Islamic State militants, the federal government announced Tuesday.

The funding will support the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure in Iraq, as well as help internally displaced people in Ninewah and Anbar provinces return home safely and support the clearance of unexploded bombs, mines and booby traps left by IS militants, said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“Today’s announcement will contribute to the reconstruction of critical services in areas that have been liberated from Daesh and will concretely encourage women’s empowerment in Iraq by promoting their participation in reconciliation efforts and advancing the economic involvement of women in their communities,” Freeland said in a statement, referring to Islamic State by its Arabic acronym.

Part of the funding will also go towards building up community policing programs, anti-terrorism training for regional police, Freeland said.

Tuesday’s announcement comes as a donor conference in Kuwait was told that Iraq would need at least $88 billion US in coming years to rebuild after three years of war with the group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

An Iraqi unit searches for mines and bombs near the site of an explosion in the city of Mosul, Iraq March 19, 2017. (Youssef Boudlal/REUTERS)

Iraq declared victory over ISIS in December, having taken back all the territory captured by the militants in 2014 and 2015.

As part of its Middle East strategy, Canada is contributing $2 billion over the course of three years toward security, stabilization, and humanitarian and development assistance in response to the crises in Iraq and Syria and their impacts on neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon, Freeland said.

Canada is one of 74 members of the U.S.-led Global Coalition against ISIS.

Canada has dozens of elite special forces commandoes deployed in northern Iraq on a mission to train Kurdish peshmerga forces, however, that mission is facing uncertainty after the Kurdish autonomous region voted for independence from Iraq, sparking a swift crackdown by authorities in Bagdad.

The Canadian military, however, still operates a military hospital in Erbil, in northern Iraq.

With files from Reuters

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