News

    Violence Blamed for Many Delays in US Reconstruction Efforts in Iraq

    U.S. officials have told Congress U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq are being significantly, and expensively, hampered by security concerns. This was among the issues raised as lawmakers grilled administration representatives about what has happened to the millions of U.S. dollars that have been spent in Iraq for reconstruction projects.

    Both Democrats and Republicans blasted what they considered a lack of accountability about the huge sums of money in Iraq. Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos said it is important that U.S. and Iraqi funds are not misused, and that reconstruction projects there are successful.

    "Unless we show the Iraqi people that their liberation has brought tangible benefits, or at the very least, the restoration of central services to pre-war levels, key factions will continue to side with the insurgents, and not with forces of freedom," said Tom Lantos.

    In his testimony to the House committee, USAID's James Kunder acknowledged that, in his words, mistakes have been made. But he blamed what he described as the "violence of the insurgency" as one of the main factors.

    "As I've reported to the committee in the past, somewhere between 16 and 22 percent, depending on the program, of the reconstruction dollars are going in to security, paying for armed guards so we can conduct immunization programs for children, and so forth," said James Kunder.

    At the same time, he said there are smaller-scale success stories that are taking place behind the scenes, such as efforts to improve Iraq's agricultural sector.

    "One of the impediments, we discovered, to rebuilding that agricultural economy is [that there is] simply no infrastructure left to restore farm implements, to repair farm implements," he said. "So, U.S. taxpayer dollars have gone to create 14 tractor repair workshops around the country, where we're repairing thousands of pieces of agriculture equipment that had gone to rust and weren't working."

    Meanwhile, the special inspector general in Iraq, Stuart Bowen, testified that his office has been involved in what he described as "aggressive oversight" of U.S. government projects in Iraq.

    "They've completed 42 inspections, and 97 limited reviews," said Stuart Bowen. "And we've also been using overhead imagery to look at project sites that no one can get to, to make some assessment of how they're doing. And we've done 112 of those, with benefits, through engineering suggestions, that have been in the tens of millions of dollars."

    Bowen added that there have been five arrests and two convictions, of individuals involved in fradulent use of U.S. funds in Iraq. He added that 20 more cases have been referred to the Department of Justice.

    The congressionally mandated office of the special inspector general in Iraq was set up nearly two years ago.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora