At the end of 2017, the last area of Iraq under the control of ISIS was liberated. In the transition phase, in which Iraq currently finds itself, it remains necessary to support the liberated areas with projects that allow displaced persons to return home quickly. At the same time, we must work on the reconstruction of these areas and on tackling the root causes of conflict and instability in Iraq.
The Dutch government has named Iraq as a foreign policy focus country and the Netherlands is committed to legitimate stability in Iraq and the promotion of further democratic and sustainable inclusive economic development. This can be partly achieved by continuing to support the reception and return of 1.9 million people still internally displaced in 2019. Basic services in the liberated areas must also be restored. Furthermore, additional efforts are needed to address the root causes of conflict and instability.
One of Iraq's major challenges is the young population that faces a lack of jobs in the private sector. The Netherlands is therefore focusing on sharing our knowledge and experience in the field of labour-intensive sectors, agriculture being a clear priority. Agriculture is not possible without water, so the Netherlands is also committed to providing assistance in this respect. We are also focusing on creating a good business climate. In 2018, several scoping studies were carried out to identify the sectors in which the Netherlands could offer the greatest added value.