By Nezar Almutairi
KUWAIT, Feb 13 (KUNA) -- A Kuwait-hosted conference on reconstruction in war-torn Iraq represents a "semblance of opportunity" for a nation that has been tried and tested in many ways, a senior UN official said Wednesday.
The process to rebuild Iraq revolves around the notion of providing essential services to the people displaced by the violence, which in turn, allows them the chance to resettle, the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) administrator Achim Steiner told KUNA in an exclusive interview.
Steiner noted that the talks in Kuwait would buoy the UN global development platform's USD 800 million "stabilization program" in Iraq, with an additional USD 5 million he hoped to secure at the conference to keep one of the largest humanitarian endeavors in the region afloat. Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI) is to concluded later today.
The program, though still in its infancy, has already paid ultimate dividends in rebuilding a nation that lies in tatters after years of war, where some 1,880 development projects are currently underway in Iraqi cities freed from the clutches of the so-called Islamic State (IS).
He revealed that the UNDP was the first UN agency, at the Iraqi government's behest, to take immediate measures in restoring normalcy to the lives of the Iraqi people, which can help create thousands of jobs in the private sector.
The UN official cited "remarkable results" thus far, saying more than half of the six million displaced Iraqis were able to return to their homes a mere three months after the end of combat operations, touting it as a tremendous success story.
On a related note, Steiner said the work of the UNDP has proved relevant to Kuwait's national development plan, saying a strategy for cooperation in the years 2020-2023 would establish the "next generation" partnership with Kuwait.
He added that the deal pays much attention to the implications of the digital economy as well as efforts to protect environmental assets, pinpointing innovation as a key area that both sides have agreed to collaborate on.
"We want to engage with Kuwait in the context of the global development arena and to examine how the many innovations Kuwait has developed can be made available to other countries," Steiner said.
Headquartered in New York City, the UNDP advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to improve living conditions for millions of people around the world. (end) nam