On his last day as the top United Nations envoy to Iraq, Staffan de Mistura today congratulated the country’s Government on strides made towards the consolidation of democracy and the restoration of sovereignty.
Iraq is celebrating today’s withdrawal from its cities, towns and villages of the United States-led Multinational Forces in IRAQ (MNF-I), he said, cautioning that many challenges – including providing better services to the people, greater inclusiveness and improving security for all – remain.
In a statement issued yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke out against recent attacks, calling on the people of the strife-torn nation to reject attempts to incite further violence as it takes full responsibility for security in its cities.
“The Secretary-General notes that Iraq has been benefiting from an improving security environment, and appeals to the people of Iraq to continue to reject these attempts to incite further violence in the country,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.
Mr. de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, underscored today that “significant progress has been achieved on many fronts” in areas such as boosting stability.
“The primary responsibility for putting Iraq on an irreversible path towards lasting peace and development rests with the people of this great country, who are relying on their political leaders to put the needs of the State and of the people above all other interests,” he said.
Also in Iraq, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is joining forces with the Government to implement a $10 million initiative, funded by the European Community (EC), aimed at improving water and sanitation services for more than 100,000 people.
The new project also seeks to support the Iraqi authorities’ efforts to improve the delivery of water and sanitation services to millions more people.
“We aspire to enhance the quality of water and sanitation coverage to all Iraqi children and families, which will ensure the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing by half the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015 is attained,” said Sikander Khan, UNICEF’s Iraq Representative.
Years of conflict have resulted in under-investment and inadequate maintenance, leaving some 6 million people – mostly in rural areas – unable to access clean water.
Over the next year, the new project will train hundreds of Government staff, support the creation of a Knowledge and Training Centre and conduct a survey to identify areas in the greatest need of investment.