Iraq was added as a CD4D target country as of 1 August 2018. Currently, IOM Iraq is reaching out to governmental counterparts to identify key sectors and institutions. The National Plan for Reconstruction and Development will be used by IOM Iraq as a guiding document. Public institutions will be selected in the whole of Iraq and either at the national, regional or local level.
Next to the strengthening of public institutions, and a first in the CD4D project, there will also be a focus on private sector development. For this purpose, outreach will be done to entrepreneurial Iraqi diaspora residing in the Netherlands who are interested in doing business in Iraq.
Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State (IS) group in December 2017 after driving out the extremists from nearly all the territory they once held. However, three years of conflict has taken a devastating toll: “schools, hospitals, roads and homes are still contaminated by unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices. Whole neighborhoods, even entire cities, are uninhabitable. The fighting has now stopped, but there is an enormous task ahead.” 1 While the current needs to reconstruct the country are enormous, various efforts will have to be deployed. The Ministry of Planning has issued a reconstruction2 document that should guide the international support towards specific objectives and priorities in the reconstruction. One way to support the reconstruction will be to reach out to Iraqis abroad, as experts or investors, to support the development of the country.
Iraq was a beneficiary country under the “Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals” 3 program that facilitated a total of 48 assignments in Iraq in the areas of education, health, engineering and humanitarian assistance.
According to the Dutch Central Office for Statistics4, in 2016 there were 40.800 first generation Iraqis and 15.400 second generation Iraqis in the Netherlands.
In 2014, a mapping exercise has been conducted in the Netherlands on the profile of the Iraqi diaspora and their willingness to contribute to Iraq’s development5. While the results have been collected among a relatively small sample, there are some general conclusions that are useful for the current proposal, such as:
- According to the Iraqi Embassy in The Hague, the Iraqi diaspora in the Netherlands is generally well integrated into Dutch society. The majority of them are employed.
- Within this Iraqi diaspora, the Kurdish community is the more represented in the Netherlands. Kurdish refugees in Europe are generally highly educated.
- In general, diaspora members show great interest and high commitment to help their country of origin by means of human or financial capital.
- In order of importance, they would like to contribute to the following sectors: education, health care, environment, human rights, commerce, tourism, ICT, Transport and construction, finance and agriculture.
- Many of the diaspora members are organized in diaspora organizations in the Netherlands, which is helpful for outreach activities.
IOM Iraq will reach out to governmental counterparts, such as the Ministry of Planning, to identify pressing capacity building needs. The Dutch Embassy in Baghdad, the Dutch Consulate General in Erbil and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities6 will also be involved. Public institutions will be selected in the whole of Iraq and either at the national, regional or local level.
IOM Iraq will also seek partnership with the National Investment Commission and the Kurdistan Board of Investment, to define the most promising sectors for investment.