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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IRAQ: Local, international NGOs welcome new UN resolution

BAGHDAD, 16 August 2007 (IRIN) - A group of Iraqi and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has welcomed the new UN Security Council resolution to expand the UN's role in Iraq.

"We welcome acknowledgment of the humanitarian crisis in this resolution... we hope this formal and official acknowledgement will bring more means to respond to and meet the needs of Iraq’s vulnerable people," Cedric Turlan, information officer for the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI), a network of about 80 international and 200 Iraqi NGOs, told IRIN on 12 August.

Turlan pointed to the current obstacles in delivering humanitarian aid.

"Both [Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces] hamper the necessary neutrality, independence and impartiality of humanitarian assistance, as they are considered by other parties to be parties to the conflict," Turlan said.

The resolution, which was adopted unanimously on 10 August, authorises the UN mission to "advise, support and assist the government and people of Iraq on advancing their inclusive, political dialogue and national reconciliation".

It also authorises the UN to facilitate "regional dialogue, including on issues of border security, energy and refugees", and asks the UN to help develop ways "to resolve disputed internal boundaries" that are acceptable to the government.

Revised text

The initial text was revised to put more focus on human rights, humanitarian issues, protecting civilians, and promoting the safety of humanitarian personnel.

In a statement issued last week, Amnesty International's Secretary-General Irene Khan said the original text was completely "silent on the gross human rights abuses taking place on a daily basis in Iraq, and on the deepening humanitarian crisis in the country", a view echoed by other rights groups.

Security concerns

Humanitarian work in Iraq has been severely hampered by the ongoing violence and many aid workers have been killed or kidnapped. NGOs are forced to keep a low profile, and there is heavy reliance on local staff.

"The security situation won't improve in the short term because of a UN resolution, nor will access [to areas needing humanitarian assistance]. NGOs are not expecting a great change in their daily routines in the short term," Turlan added.

The UN mission in Iraq, UNAMI, has helped organise elections, draft Iraq's constitution and develop institutions for representative government. But its day-to-day operations have been severely restricted because of security concerns and attacks on its Baghdad headquarters.

The undersecretary-general for political affairs, B. Lynne Pascoe, said last week the UN expected to raise the ceiling for international staff in Iraq from 65 to 95 by October. Hours later, however, the UN Staff Council called on the secretary-general to pull all UN personnel out of the country until security improves.



Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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