Iraq is reportedly set to write off some of Somalia's debt, according to a report by Al-Ahram citing an official in the Arab League, to which both countries belong.
The Director of the Arab League's Horn of Africa and Sudan Department, Zayd Saban, revealed that the organisation has received an official memorandum from Baghdad saying that it will partially cancel Somalia's debts to Iraq. Saban said that decisions made at past Arab summits have urged member states to forgive Somalia's debts.
According to Somalia data, as of December 2019 Mogadishu owed Iraq approximately $187 million. The African country is currently experiencing a food crisis, brought on by devastating drought and decades of conflict. By the middle of 2023, over 8 million people – nearly half of the population — are predicted to be facing rising food insecurity.
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While Somalia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has steadily improved, about 96 per cent of it goes towards paying off its $5.2 billion national debt.
The reported intention of the Iraqi government to write off some of Somalia's debt follows a meeting last year between Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Legal Affairs and Multilateral Relations, Qahtan Taha Khalaf, and Somalia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdi Saeed Musa. The meeting was held on the fringe of the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad, Pakistan.
According to Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the pair discussed strengthening bilateral relations and the mechanism for paying Somalia's debts to Iraq. Khalaf also invited the Somali Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance to visit Iraq for talks on the issue.