US announces $155M assistance for Iraq, Iraqi refugees

The State Department announced on Friday an additional $155 million for Iraq and Iraqi refugees ahead of a critical meeting between US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Premier Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

The new funding brings US aid to over $200 million for the current fiscal year that ends in September. Over $3 billion has been provided to Iraq and Iraqis in the region since the 2014 fiscal year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“This funding will provide critical shelter, essential healthcare, emergency food assistance, protection services such as gender-based violence response, and water, sanitation, and hygiene services throughout Iraq,” said Blinken.

“U.S. funded programs will support Iraqis displaced by ISIS, many of whom also continue to face hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting access to civil documentation and legal services, improving the capacity of health care facilities, and increasing access to education and livelihood opportunities,” he added.

Al-Kadhimi and Biden are to meet Monday at the White House amid speculation that Washington and Baghdad will agree to the withdrawal of all US combat forces from Iraq by the end of the year. The agreement reportedly leaves the door open to US trainers and intelligence assets remaining in the country.

“We don’t need any more fighters because we have those,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “What do we need? We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air.”

About 2,500 American troops remain in Iraq following the territorial defeat of the Daesh/ISIS terror group.

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