News from the UN and Iraq

There are a number of interesting initiatives and happenings coming out of the UN in the past couple days re. Iraq.

Here’s a sampling from the official UN News Centre..

Yesterday, the Iraqi Prime Minister asked for and received the unanimous consent of the UNSC to extend the mandate of the Multinational forces inside Iraq until past June 6, 2005 (the date set by Resolution 1546 which authorized the Multinational presence in Iraq). The statement says, The Council mandate for the force will expire when the political process leading to a permanent, constitutionally-elected government is completed, or earlier if requested by the Iraqi authorities.

The UNSC resolution also encouraged all members of the UN to attend the EU and US coordinated conference in Brussels in the coming weeks. The conference will, engage the international community on its priorities, vision and strategies for the transition period in Iraq.

Also yesterday, Kofi Annan announced that Iraqi President Al-Hasani asked for the UNs help in drafting the new Iraqi constitution (by August 15).

“The Secretary-General hopes that the people of Iraq will seize this historic opportunity to pursue a constitutional process that is inclusive, participatory, transparent and responsive to the key demands of all Iraqi political constituencies,” the statement concluded. “He hopes that every effort will be made to complete the drafting of the constitution within the timetable for Iraq’s political transition.”

There are also refugees in Iraq that need to be relocated. The UNHCR is working with the Iraqi government on that front.

The Iraqi Government has agreed to move 3,100 Iranian Kurd refugees, who have been stuck in harsh and dangerous conditions near Ramadi, to a safer area in the north, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) was informed that the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office approved the proposed plan to relocate Al Tash camp’s remaining population – virtually cut off from aid since the start of the war in 2003 – to a much safer location near Suleimaniyah, in northern Iraq.

Separately, the UNHCR announced another “breakthrough” involving refugees living in Iraq at the time of the war, as some 743 refugees, mainly Iranian Kurds who have been living in a “no man’s land” camp between Jordan and Iraq for up to two years, moved on Sunday to Ruweished camp, some 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

“Although conditions in Ruweished are far from perfect, it is nevertheless distinctly preferable to the no man’s land camp, which was extremely difficult to access, potentially at considerable physical risk, and was under no state’s jurisdiction,” said Ms. Pagonis.

On an environmental and human level, the UN has also announced a number of initiatives to help Iraqis rebuild their country after the war.

The UN will provide training, research and assistance to Iraqis to help detect and determine the effects of materials containing Depleted Uranium.

In the Balkans, levels were generally so low that they did not constitute a health or environmental hazard, while localized DU sites could be detected and precautions taken, UNEP said.

Areas needing further study in Iraq included whether DU on the ground could filter through the soil and contaminate groundwater and whether DU dust could be suspended in the air by wind and human activity, with the risk that it could be breathed in

The UN will also continue to help with the restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands, the home of the Marsh Arabs that was drained by Saddams regime.

And finally, the UN will provide assistance to a seemingly odd, but absolutely vital aspect of Iraqi society. Veterinarians.

Iraq still has about 2.5 million cattle, as well as 17 million sheep and goats, FAO said, and herds migrate throughout the country and its neighbours. Any surge in livestock diseases would decrease the production of meat, milk and eggs, the most important sources of protein for the population.

Brucellosis, Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever and anthrax are threats to humans and should be controlled by modern veterinary services, it said.


Under the new project, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) would train veterinary staff in technical, management and research skills for surveillance and control of disease and the maintenance of public health, provide clinical supplies and equipment, re-establish diagnostic and quality control laboratories and build and equip nine veterinary centres and seven cold storage facilities.

I wonder if anyone told President Bush that he’d have to plan for the plight of Iraqi cows?

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