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UN completes withdrawal of staff from Iraq

UN completes withdrawal of staff from Iraq

The withdrawal of United Nations personnel from Iraq was completed today, with workers that had been monitoring Iraqi oil exports evacuated with the full cooperation of the country's authorities, according to a UN spokesman.

Arrangements were made for the workers to be evacuated from an oil platform at the port of Mina al Bakr via Iraqi tugboat, which transferred them to another platform. They were eventually taken to international waters and transferred to a US ship, which took them to a port in the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile in New York, Security Council members took note of the decision by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday to suspend, for security reasons, the work of UN humanitarian personnel in Iraq.

A note issued by the Council President said the members stood ready to consider, as soon as possible, proposals being prepared by the Secretary-General on how to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, taking into account the urgency of the humanitarian situation in the country.

Speaking in the Council today, Mr. Annan pledged that the United Nations will do whatever it can to help the Iraqi people "without in any way assuming or diminishing" the ultimate responsibility, under international law, of the belligerents to protect civilians in conflict and of the occupying power for the welfare of the population.

The UN has established a relief hub in Cyprus, staffed with more than 100 personnel and working under the leadership of Ramiro Lopes da Silva, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.