Iraq: top UN envoy deplores latest bombing, killing dozens at end of Islamic holiday
11 December 2008 – The top United Nations envoy to Iraq has strongly condemned a bombing near the northern city of Kirkuk today, killing dozens and injuring more than 90 civilians in a crowded restaurant.
The suicide bomber struck a popular restaurant 25 miles from ethnically divided Kirkuk while hundreds of families were celebrating the last day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, killing at least 48, according to media reports.
“This appalling attack targeting scores of people during a religious holiday in an especially sensitive city seems deliberately designed to provoke revenge attacks and further inflame ethnic tensions,” warned the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura.
Calling on the leaders of all communities of Kirkuk to demonstrate responsible leadership and urging restraint by their followers, Mr. de Mistura said, “At moments such as these, peace-loving people from all groups in Kirkuk should unite against the forces of cold-blooded mass murder.”
He extended the UN’s sincere condolences to the bereaved families and its heartfelt wishes for the full and speedy recovery for those wounded, according to a news release issued by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
Also today, the Special Representative voiced concern over the plight of hundreds of foreign labourers enticed to the country with the promise of work only to be left bitterly disappointed.
The case of over 1,000 workers stranded at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) after being brought into Iraq by international contractors, which has been reported in the media, is not an isolated occurrence, said Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq.
“UNAMI takes the allegations of human trafficking by contractors in Iraq very seriously and is concerned about their predicament,” said Mr. de Mistura.
“The case in BIAP is one that has made public headlines but we are aware of other cases, some of which have reached relevant courts, and we hope will also be addressed in accordance with international labour law standards,” he added.
Mr. de Mistura said that the results of an assessment of the BIAP situation conducted by UNAMI coincide with a similar International Organization for Migration (IOM) evaluation, and expected the relevant authorities and contractors to ensure that legally recognized standards of care for the workers are respected and enforced.
Welcoming indications that those directly involved in the BIAP situation are examining the issue, he said that he hoped it will soon be resolved, “so that the suffering of these people, whose hopes have been shattered and who have had to endure severe hardship and disappointment, is rapidly brought to an end.”
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