As United Nations relief agencies continued to increase their presence in Iraq, with more than 250 international staff now back in the country, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he believed the Security Council would be able to produce a "helpful" resolution on the UN's role there.
Meanwhile security, especially in Baghdad and in the south, including Basra, remained a top priority for UN humanitarian workers, who also expressed increasing alarm over the rising number of refugees in Iraq who are being threatened, robbed and forced from their homes, sometimes at gunpoint.
"I think with a good, open, constructive and flexible attitude, they will be able to come up with a resolution that will be helpful for everybody," Mr. Annan told reporters on arrival at UN Headquarters in New York when asked about a draft Security Council resolution sponsored by the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain on the administration of post-war Iraq, including the UN role.
In Baghdad, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, has been meeting with coalition military officials as well representatives of the US-run Office for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Affairs to insist on the need to restore security to the country, which has been wracked by shooting and looting.
Voicing alarm over the intimidation of refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the "worrying phenomenon, brought about by the collapse in governance and the widespread security vacuum," might now be spreading from Palestinians to Iranians. There are 60,000 to 90,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq and more than 23,000 Iranian refugees.
Up to 1,000 Iranian refugees may have been displaced in southern Iraq after having their homes, crops and other property confiscated, UNHCR said. Some of them are now living in an abandoned transit centre on the outskirts of Basra while many others are camped out near the border area with Iran, intent on heading back to their homeland.
On the health issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that in the northern city of Mosul there was a five-fold increase in diarrhoea, especially in adults. WHO also detected a seven-fold increase in acute hepatitis.
Meanwhile, the value of priority supplies that can be shipped to Iraq from the UN Oil-for-Food pipeline by 3 June, when it expires, has reached $778 million, mostly in the food ($356 million), electricity ($179 million), agriculture ($119 million) and health ($81 million) sectors. More than half of these goods are already in transit to Iraq.