UN playing enhanced role in Iraq, political chief tells Security Council

28 April 2008

The international community has a duty and an interest in showing sustained commitment to helping to bring peace and prosperity to Iraq as the country undergoes “a painful transition,” the senior United Nations political official told the Security Council today.

Briefing Council members on his recent visit to Iraq, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said he was “absolutely convinced that the United Nations is doing its best…. the United Nations is playing an enhanced role in Iraq.”

He said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has increased the world body’s presence in Baghdad to 140 and the number of international staff in Erbil to 40, while still taking strict measures to deal with the security situation.

The UN has also re-established its presence in Basra and is considering expanding its presence in the cities of Najaf, Ramadi and Kirkuk. An outreach programme that places national liaison officers in each governor’s office has deployed nine officers so far.

UNAMI [the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq] and the Country Team have also adopted an area-based approach that expands activities where circumstances are more permissible,” Mr. Pascoe said, adding that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a “valuable presence” in the national capital as well.

The Under-Secretary-General detailed some of the UN assistance, such as field visits to help Iraqis resolve internal disputed territories, support for the holding of provincial elections scheduled for October and aid to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

In his briefing Mr. Pascoe – who last week also attended the regional meeting, in Kuwait, of Iraq and its neighbours – commended the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Staffan de Mistura and his staff for their dedication and esprit de corps.

“Several times during my visit, I was reminded of the risks that our staff face when the alarm systems sounded and instructed staff to take cover from the threat of indirect fire. We remain deeply conscious of the security threat and are constantly upgrading our mitigating measures in order to enhance the safety of our personnel in Iraq.”

While the UN remains grateful of Council members’ support of UNAMI’s work, he urged Member States to provide additional financial and logistical resources for the mission.

“Iraq is going through a political transition,” Mr. Pascoe stressed at the start of today’s open debate on the issue in the Council.

“The challenges of national reconciliation, reconstruction and development after decades of dictatorship and war are massive. I was impressed, however, by the seriousness and commitment of the Government of Iraq to address these challenges with a view to ending the suffering and achieving a tangible improvement in the lives of the Iraqi people. This is a long-term endeavour that requires the sustained support of the international community.”

 

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