On the fringes of the Tenth Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) shortly to be held in the city of Putrajaya in Malaysia, the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) today pledged at least U.S. $2 million for humanitarian assistance in postwar Iraq. The Bank will in the near future channel the funds to Iraq through the Red Crescent Society and other local aid groups in order to help them respond to the immediate and urgent needs of people affected by the war. The money allocated, IDB officials stressed, is solely for humanitarian purposes, not reconstruction; adding that more could be made available when needed.
In addition, IDB pledges funds to alleviate extreme poverty among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, focusing on creating jobs, rebuilding demolished homes, and improving health care, education facilities and the social infrastructure. Most of the 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza now rely on either welfare, handouts from relatives or food aid from the United Nations and other international groups. More than 100,000 Palestinians have lost their jobs inside Israel in recent years because of roadblocks, curfews and closures. Since 1976, IDB has spent around $ 110 million of its own resources to help Palestinians in addition to distributing $ 721 million donated by Arab states over the past three years to sponsor the operations of the Palestinian Authority.