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Massive efforts needed on reconstruction

[Iraq] Mount Lebanon hotel following the bombing. IRIN
Many buildings are in need of repair across the country.
With last week seeing the 100th day since Iraq's interim government came to power, officials acknowledge the scale of the task of reconstructing the country but say that some progress is being made. Among the government's main goals are improving public services, ending corruption and organising elections for January. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told the national assembly in Baghdad on Tuesday that Coalition forces would remain in Iraq, offering security until the country's own forces were fully trained. He confirmed that elections would be held as scheduled in January, despite the continuing insurgency. Sabah Kahdim, a senior political adviser to Iraq's Interior Ministry, added that the United Nations needed to increase its level of participation to ensure that the elections go ahead. There are now plans for reconstructing cities across the country with the Ministry of Municipalities allocating an initial US $5 million. It has been reported that the ministry had invited engineering companies to bring forward ideas and participate in the designing of basic structures for the governorates across central and southern Iraq. Coalition officials responsible for managing reconstruction programmes and administering contracts said last week that they have so far committed or set aside for specific projects some $10.5 billion in reconstruction funds. Charles Hess, director of Washington's Iraq Project and Contracting Office, told IRIN that officials hope to have 1,000 projects started and many completed by the end of this year. Currently, 700 projects under the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund are in progress throughout the country. "The country is in development and Iraqis can start to look forward to their brilliant future," Ambassador Bill Taylor, director of the US Embassy's Iraqi Reconstruction Management Office, told IRIN. Taylor shared some statistics of work carried out so far: 28 water-treatment plants, 13 sewer projects, 72 health-care facilities, five public buildings, 62 "border ports", nine fire stations, 37 electricity substations and nine military bases are under construction. Five water-treatment plants, one sewer project and 73 health-care facilities have been completed. In addition, Taylor said, 3,100 schools had been "rehabilitated" and 39,000 police, 14,000 border police, three battalions of regular army soldiers and eight battalions of National Guard soldiers had been trained and equipped. Some ordinary Iraqis remain hopeful. "What Iraqi people are searching for is prosperity in the future, and if they start to feel that the government can do this, things will certainly get better. I wish for a great future for my family and all the Iraqi people," Bassam Al-Hariri, a shopkeeper in the Hay-la-Adel sector of Baghdad, told IRIN. "Apart from the security situation, because of the explosions everywhere, I have started to feel that there is some improvement and if people start to give the government a chance, I think they can go far," said Tarak Hussam, a resident of the Hay Jamia'a sector in Baghdad.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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