UN settlement agency opens Basra office to begin examining housing needs in Iraq

UN settlement agency opens Basra office to begin examining housing needs in Iraq

The United Nations agency for urban settlements has opened a new office in Basra to begin the urgent task of certifying the state of war-damaged housing stock in order to plan for the necessary post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction in Iraq.

The UN Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT) team in Basra currently consists of one international expert and 54 national engineers, architects and database managers. The agency’s offices in Amman, Jordan, and Larnaca, Cyprus, are providing support to the team.

The agency said it has also examined the state of sewage disposal and solid waste management in Habania, a low-income district in Basra with a population of 300,000. The situation there is desperate due to years of neglect and additional war damage, according to the agency’s initial findings. Once the ongoing assessment reporting is finalized, UN-HABITAT will liaise with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to begin emergency repairs.

These emergency relief surveys will also be conducted in Baghdad, Mosul and other urban areas in the near future, the agency said. It also plans to re-open its offices in Baghdad as soon as conditions permit.

UN-HABITAT has been at the forefront of post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction in many post war situations across the globe. In 1997, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called upon the agency to implement the settlement rehabilitation component of the Oil-for-Food programme in Iraq. International experts are now returning to the three northern Iraqi governorates, where UN-HABITAT has been working with internally displaced persons and vulnerable groups under the programme.