UN relief agencies step up protection efforts in Iraq

27 May 2003

In an effort to step up relief operations in Iraq despite the ongoing lack of security resulting from random looting, shooting and robberies, the United Nations top relief official in the country today organized the first meeting of the national working group on protection.

The group put together by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, involves the UN, with two human rights advisors as well as various non-governmental organizations, including Save the Children and Human Rights Watch.

In another humanitarian operation, this time in Modena, Italy, renowned Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti was performing his annual "Pavarotti and Friends" concert tonight to raise money to assist the return and reintegration of Iraqi refugees.

Mr. Pavarotti was focusing specifically on the most vulnerable 20,000 of the more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, was scheduled to attend the concert, featuring artists like Bono, Queen, Liza Minnelli, Eric Clapton, Ricky Martin, Lionel Richie, Deep Purple, Zucchero, Andrea Boccelli and Laura Pausini.

This is the tenth annual "Pavarotti and Friends" concert, and the third to benefit UNHCR's refugee assistance projects. Last year's performance raised more than €2 million (euros) for projects to aid Angolan refugees returning to their shattered homeland.