UN to carry out Iraq operations from abroad

10 December 2003
UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, on 10 December announced that future Iraqi operations would be conducted from Cyprus or Jordan because Iraq is still too dangerous, reported Reuters. The decision will be officially announced to the UN Security Council on 10 December in a 26-page report, which is the result of a security review carried out after the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August. 'I cannot afford to compromise the security of our international and national staff,' Annan said. 'Under the circumstances, it is difficult to envisage the UN operating with a large number of international staff inside Iraq in the near future, unless there is an unexpected and significant improvement in the overall security situation.'

The report also names Ross Mountain, who at present heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, as the new temporary head of UN operations in Iraq. He will replace Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in the August bombing.

Annan's report also questions the role that the UN can have in Iraq's future, but offers the organisation's assistance to the country, particularly after the handover of political power in June 2004. 'In taking the difficult decisions that lie ahead, I shall be asking myself questions, such as whether the substance of the role allocated to the UN is proportionate to the risks we are being asked to take? Whether the political process is fully inclusive and transparent, and whether the humanitarian tasks in question are truly life-saving or not?' Annan wrote in the report. 'It would be important to have clarity both as regards what might be expected of us and about respective new possibilities.'

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