LACK OF SECURITY SERIOUS HINDRANCE TO RELIEF EFFORTS
IN IRAQ, TOP UN OFFICIALS TELL SECURITY COUNCIL
NEW YORK, 22 May (UN Headquarters) -- While a major humanitarian crisis had been averted so far in Iraq, the civilian population -- and children in particular -- remained at risk if the security situation did not improve substantially soon, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette told the Security Council this morning, as it met on the humanitarian situation in that country.
In a prior meeting this morning, the Council adopted resolution 1483 (2003), which, among other things, provided for a Special Representative of the Secretary-General whose responsibilities would include coordination of humanitarian aid.
Opening the meeting, during which the Council was briefed by top United Nations officials, Ms. Fréchette said the Organization’s ability to respond rapidly and effectively from the outset of the crisis had been greatly enhanced by inter-agency coordination, which had resulted in joint planning and an integrated plan, with substantial quantities of humanitarian supplies having been pre-positioned inside Iraq and neighbouring countries.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), stated Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, had moved quickly with efforts to provide electricity, facilitating the operation of water supply stations, sewage treatment plants and hospitals. Together with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UNDP was also preparing needs assessment operations for reconstruction and recovery planning.
The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), James T. Morris, said the WFP so far had delivered over 200,000 metric tons of food and was now gearing up for the largest humanitarian operation it had ever attempted. He was confident that serious hunger among the Iraqi people could be avoided. Today, there was no food crisis in Iraq, he stated. Iraq was a nation of tremendous wealth and resources, and with the restoration of a functioning economy, it would eventually be able to move away from heavily subsidized food rations.
David Nabbaro, Executive Director, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments and Senior Policy Adviser to the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said the priority now was to rapidly re-establish medical and public health-care services for Iraqis. In much of the country, the precarious security situation hampered efforts to re-start public services.
Echoing the concern of many, he said, "the absolute lack of cash to meet the running costs of services and to enable critical personnel to receive remuneration, is undermining the capacity of all institutions to offer essential services". He estimated that the total cost of jump starting the health-care system and sustaining it for six months to be between $20 million and $30 million per month.
A top priority for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said Nils Kastberg, Director, Office of Emergency Programmes, was to get all children back in school as soon as possible. Another was basic health for children and women. In response to soaring rates of diarrhoea among Iraqi children, UNICEF was rebuilding basic immunization services and improving sewage and waste disposal to eliminate contaminants in water. It was also advocating the removal of breast milk substitutes from food donation packages, since they were mixed with contaminated water.
The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, said the ICRC had, so far, visited more than 7,000 prisoners of war and civilian internees, and was continuing efforts to gain access to others. Its priorities included visits to all those who had been deprived of their liberty; the protection of the sick and wounded, children and internally displaced persons; emergency repair and rehabilitation of infrastructure; the provision of emergency medical services and equipment; the provision of food to vulnerable populations; and landmine-related operations.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members raised questions about the provision of basic services; the role of the "oil-for-food" programme in funding relief operations; functioning of health, sanitary and educational services; and repair of the energy and communication infrastructure. The lack of security and the existing power vacuum were of concern. Speakers also stressed the need for coordination among United Nations agencies, as well as with coalition partners and other humanitarian actors.
Before the meeting concluded, Syria’s representative took the floor to state that, had more time been granted before this morning’s vote on resolution 1483, his delegation would have voted in favour of that text. However, he stressed that his vote should definitely not be interpreted as a change in its staunch anti-war position.
The representatives of Germany, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, United States, Angola, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Mexico, China, Chile, Spain and France also spoke. Council President Munir Akram (Pakistan) summarized the discussion, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima also addressed the Council.
The meeting, which started at 11:45 a.m., was suspended at 1:15 p.m. It then resumed at 3:15 p.m. and adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the response to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. It heard briefings by the heads of several United Nations and other humanitarian agencies.
Statement by Deputy Secretary-General
LOUISE FRÉCHETTE, Deputy Secretary-General, started by expressing sorrow over the heavy loss of life, injuries and destruction caused by yesterday’s earthquake in Algeria. She extended the Secretary-General’s condolences to the families of the deceased and to the Government of Algeria. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had already provided an emergency cash grant of $50,000, and a disaster assessment and coordination team had been deployed to support the Algerian Government in coordinating the international response and to assist in assessing priority needs.
Noting that the humanitarian situation in Iraq remained very serious, she said the breakdown of essential services and law and order had resulted in a range of urgent needs. While a major humanitarian crisis had been averted so far, the civilian population -- and children, in particular -- remained at risk, particularly if the security situation did not improve substantially in the near future.
The ability of the United Nations to respond rapidly and effectively from the outset of the crisis had been greatly enhanced by a range of preparedness, she said. Inter-agency coordination had resulted in an integrated plan, and substantial quantities of humanitarian supplies had been prepositioned inside Iraq and in neighbouring countries, which had ensured the swift transit of supplies through five main access corridors. The Humanitarian Coordinator and the area coordinators had been meeting regularly with United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Emphasizing that reactivating essential public services was the overarching priority of virtually all United Nations assistance efforts, she said that those included health services, electricity and water supply, as well as the public food distribution system. One major constraint on public service providers had been the inability to pay salaries and other running costs. One-off payments had been made in some locations, and there were encouraging indications that a regular system of salary payments to public sector employees would begin shortly.
Another problem had been the looting of a large number of essential public facilities. The general lack of law and order had had a wide variety of humanitarian consequences, including the devastation of ministries, water treatment plants, hospitals and warehouses. Many facilities had been repaired or restocked, only to be looted again a few days later. Security concerns also included unexploded ordnance, which threatened civilians and impeded transport and the resumption of normal agricultural activities.
Noting that the insecurity was also a major impediment to humanitarian assistance activities, she said that the movement of United Nations staff was limited in many urban areas and they could not reach people in need. Several non-governmental organizations had been attacked in cities and on the main roads to Baghdad. The threat of violence had also resulted in population movements, such as the displacement of Iraqi Arabs from several areas. The Humanitarian Coordinator was leading an effort by United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations to draw up a protection framework for internally displaced persons, returning refugees and other civilians at risk.
Regarding Iraq’s cultural heritage, she described the destruction and looting that had occurred in Baghdad and at archaeological sites, historic buildings, monuments and museums around the country as a tragedy. International experts working under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had just visited Baghdad and were finalizing their report.
In conclusion, she said that the ability to respond to the urgent needs depended greatly on whether the necessary resources would be available. To date, more than $700 million had been received in response to the United Nations flash appeal. As implementation of Security Council resolution 1472 (2003) continued, the Office of the Iraq Programme and United Nations agencies had confirmed that nearly $1 billion in priority humanitarian needs could be shipped by 3 June. As a result of the resolution adopted today, additional priority supplies would be made available to the Iraqi people, she added.
(For a full text of the Deputy Secretary-General’s statement, see Press Release DSG/SM/198-SC/7768-IK/360 issued today.)
Briefing by Agency Heads
MARK MALLOCH BROWN, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that the Programme remained deeply concerned by the difficult security environment and the law and order situation in the country, especially in Baghdad, which continued to severely hinder humanitarian assessments and deliveries. UNDP’s teams were deployed in Baghdad, Basra and the three northern governorates, and staff were now being deployed to Mosul and Kirkuk.
He said that the UNDP had moved quickly in response to the immediate humanitarian needs of the war-affected Iraqi people by providing a secure and stable electricity supply, facilitating the operation of water-supply stations, sewage-treatment plants, hospitals and other medical facilities to resume operations. The UNDP was also engaged, with support from the Government of Japan, in dredging at the port of Umm Qasr to meet the urgent need to restore deep-draught shipping operations. The Programme was also involved in mine-action operations.
Regarding reconstruction and recovery planning, he said that the UNDP, with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had been discussing how to mount needs assessment operations in the field. They were also preparing a major assessment of the current household living standards of Iraqis throughout the country. Humanitarian operations were well under way and had not, in any way, been contingent on the adoption of a resolution, such as the one adopted this morning.
JAMES T. MORRIS, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said that earlier this month, he had travelled to Baghdad to review WFP’s operations first hand, and was pleased to report to the Council that tremendous progress had been made to date. While there, he had held meetings with other United Nations colleagues and senior members of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs, as well as members of the Ministry of Trade overseeing the Iraqi food distribution system.
Of the agency’s progress so far, Mr. Morris said the WFP had delivered over 200,000 metric tons of food -- some 3,800 truckloads -- using five different corridors through Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Iran and Kuwait. In addition, a shipment of WFP rice had been moved through the port of Umm Qasr. Once additional dredging and other work had been completed, that port would become a major entry point.
He said that with all those deliveries, the WFP was gearing up for the largest humanitarian operation it had ever attempted. "Our objective is to ensure 480,000 metric tons of food a month are available to feed all 27 million Iraqis through the existing public food distribution system for five months", he said. By that time, the agency felt that an Iraqi authority would be able to take over the operation. Throughout the operation, the WFP would distribute 2.5 million tons of food -- 48,000 truckloads -- at a cost of some $1.85 billion.
He said that resources for that operation had come from the donor community, as well as food supplies made available under the "oil-for-food" programme. WFP staff had been working hard to renegotiate food contracts under the provisions of Council resolutions 1472 and 1476. He was pleased to inform the Council that the WFP had identified some $947 million worth of food items from the Programme. Full distribution to the entire population of Iraq were scheduled to begin on 1 June.
Advanced rations provided by the Government before the conflict supplied families with two months of provisions, and with the restoration of the public distribution system, the WFP was confident serious hunger among the Iraqi people could be avoided. Today, there was no food crisis in Iraq. That being said, however, humanitarian agencies still faced a number of difficulties. "First and foremost is the security and safety for staff, warehouses, silos, mills and offices", he said. He had raised that issue while in Baghdad and had been glad to hear that security was indeed a top priority.
Other pressing issues included the payment of salaries for Ministry of Trade staff implementing the public distribution system, as well as the provision of water, fuel and electricity supplies to mills in Iraq so they could produce wheat flour. Another concern was the protection of Iraq’s cereal harvest -- estimated this year at some 1.7 million tons of wheat and barley. The harvest began last week and continues through June.
He went on to say that until there was political stability and broad economic recovery in Iraq, which benefited all of Iraq’s society, the food rations previously put in place would continue to provide basic household food security and act as a stabilizing force during the current period. At the same time, Iraq was a nation of tremendous wealth and resources. With the restoration of a functioning economy, it would eventually be able to transition away from heavily subsidized food rations towards a market food economy. In doing so, it would be critical to maintain a safety net for the vulnerable populations of Iraq, especially young children in areas where high malnutrition rates had been noted.
DAVID NABBARO, Executive Director, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments and Senior Policy Adviser to the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said before the war, the Iraqi people had been facing a mixture of health hazards that were generally associated with poverty and long-term deprivation. Children, women, the elderly and disabled people had been particularly vulnerable.
Those vulnerable groups and others, he went on, had been heavily dependent on a functioning health service, provided through more than 1,400 medical facilities -- including some 160 hospitals -- and over 1,200 health centres supported by several thousand doctors. And while the war had been "mercifully short", in its aftermath, the Iraqi people still faced many hardships.
In much of the country, the precarious security situation hampered efforts to restart public services, including electricity, water, sanitation, medical and health. But even in places considered reasonably secure, the prevailing power vacuum meant that government workers had no idea what was expected of them, who was issuing their instructions or even whether there was a likelihood that they would or could remain employed. "The absolute lack of cash to meet the running costs of services and to enable critical personnel to receive remuneration, is undermining the capacity of all institutions to offer essential services", he said.
Of particular concern was the continuing deterioration of public health systems, he said. That trend not only made it difficult for pregnant mothers and people with chronic illnesses to access desperately needed medical care; it also exacerbated the potential for disease outbreaks and limited the capacity to detect them. Since the war, in most of Iraq’s governorates health services were operating at 20 per cent pre-war capacity.
Further, overall public health was declining -- immunization rates had fallen because routine vaccination programmes had been disrupted in the last six weeks. Systems for disease detection were not functioning and laboratory services had collapsed. While cholera could generally be expected at this time of year, the WHO was concerned by the increase in diarrhoeal diseases, particularly among children. Malaria and leishmaniasis needed to be kept under control, he said, and added that in a country that had been polio-free for the past three years, two new possible cases had been reported and were being investigated.
The priority, now, Mr. Nabarro said, was to rapidly re-establish medical care services and public health care for the people of Iraq. That could be done, at the start, on an interim six-month basis. If those services were not resumed, the international community could expect the Iraqi people to face the burden of further illness and disease. The new authorities in Iraq must react to the deepening health crisis with interventions: restarting existing health services for a limited period now would mitigate the crisis and enable new authorities to judge how well they functioned. Substantive health-care initiatives could be implemented in a phased and systematic manner.
He said that the WHO, in the meantime, would propose to coordinate a country-wide initiative aimed at jump-starting health-care systems, within the context of the gradual winding-down of emergency humanitarian, longer-term health sector reform, and the new authority’s rehabilitation and reconstruction plans. Where security permitted, the WHO was positioned to coordinate the restarting of, among other things, basic health care in hospitals, capacity to monitor public health and respond to threats, and systems for procuring warehousing and distribution of essential medicines. The WHO estimated the total cost of jump- starting the health-care system and sustaining it for six months to be between $20 million and $30 million per month.
NILS KASTBERG, Director, Office of Emergency Programmes, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), told the Council that UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy recently completed a three-day visit to northern Iraq. Based on her observations, the following priorities had emerged. First, UNICEF had placed the highest priority on the need for law and order throughout Iraq. After all, the ability of United Nations staff to reach the neediest children was still being impeded by a culture of lawlessness and fear.
The second priority involved getting all children back in school as soon as possible, he said. In that regard, he informed the Council of UNICEF’s commitment to deliver learning supplies to all 3.5 million primary school-aged children by September. Turning to girls, he highlighted the fact that, although they needed female role models in society, years of sanctions had reduced the importance of Iraqi women in the country’s social, economic, and political life. Thus, he called for every effort possible to be made to ensure the role of Iraqi women in the reconstruction process.
The third priority, he said, was basic health for children and women. In response to soaring diarrhoea rates among Iraqi children, UNICEF was rebuilding the cold chain for basic immunization services and improving sewage and waste disposal to eliminate contaminants in water. It was also boosting monitoring and treatment services for children affected by contaminated water. In order to further help children, UNICEF was advocating the removal of breast milk substitutes from food donation packages, since they were mixed with contaminated water.
He added that so powerful was the pull of supporting and helping children that when, immediately after the war when the looting and burning of Baghdad was at its height, UNICEF’s national staff dug into their own pockets and pulled together $95,000 to keep their office and programme running. As a result, the UNICEF office was closed for just three days during the conflict.
JAKOB KELLENBERGER, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), noted that the ICRC had been active in Iraq without interruption since 1980. Its concrete protection work had involved visits to, and repatriation of, prisoners of war from the Iraq-Iran conflict and from the first Gulf War.
He said that, since April, the ICRC had decided to keep core expatriate teams inside Iraq in the event of a war. It had become evident that the outbreak of war would require that the Committee step up its protection work and that its relevance would be enhanced. The ICRC had so far visited more than 7,000 prisoners of war and civilian internees, and was continuing its efforts to gain access to others.
Noting that the ICRC had had no access to major cities between Basra and Baghdad, including Najaf, Karbala and Nassiriya, he said its priorities would include visits to all those who had been deprived of their liberty; the protection of the sick and wounded, children and internally displaced persons; emergency repair and rehabilitation of infrastructure; the provision of emergency medical services and equipment; the provision of food to vulnerable populations; and landmine-related operations.
It was essential to understand that the current humanitarian situation in Iraq could not be disassociated from the security situation, he stressed. He also expressed concern over the effects of unexploded ordnance and the easy access to weapons and ammunition throughout the country.
Statements by Council Members
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said he shared the concerns of the representatives who had spoken. He also reiterated his condolences to the earthquake victims of Algeria, saying that the disaster had occurred as if the Arab region did not have enough problems to deal with.
He said his Government had facilitated all requests made by the humanitarian organizations in the room today. Sharing their concerns about lawlessness in Iraq, he agreed that, without law and order, it would be too difficult to meet humanitarian objectives. His country had already sent many supplies to the people of Iraq through the specialized agencies.
As an Arab, he said he was impressed that UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy had gone to Iraq to live with the people and understand their problems. In that regard, he hoped that the specialized agencies would continue to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. He also pointed out the tragic situation of the Kuwaiti missing persons and prisoners of war, and maintained that they must not be forgotten.
Turning to the representatives from the WFP and the WHO, he asked them to evaluate their performances in providing medical supplies to Iraq. He also requested statistics on school enrolment rates.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that, in many areas, such as food, electricity and sanitation, effective programmes would have to be implemented to prevent the deterioration of the political, humanitarian, and economic situation. First and foremost, security was needed. Acknowledging that serious looting was negatively affecting hospitals, he reminded the Council that providing safety and security was a responsibility of the occupiers. He noted that certain hospitals were being protected by Islamic militias, and warned that Iraqis would begin to depend on religious armies for protection instead of the occupiers, and turn their backs on the values that the international community was trying to promote.
He asked a question about the motives of ongoing criminal activity in Iraq. Specifically, he wanted to know if it was simply greed that was fuelling the looting or if there were political and terrorist motives as well. Also, he wanted to know if non-governmental organizations had been able to improve their access to the Iraqi people. He then asked what expectations the agencies had of the new Special Representative of the United Nations. Finally, in light of the decrease in fresh money flowing in, he wished to know if the agencies would be able to meet their goals with fewer funds.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said it was clear that the main problem facing the United Nations and non-governmental organizations was the security situation in Iraq. The restoration of security was the best way to help those organizations in their tasks. It would also be important for the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, when one was appointed, to be able to ensure that the organizations concerned with providing assistance helped donors to identify the humanitarian needs and advise them on the means to provide such assistance to those places where it was most needed.
He also emphasized the importance of avoiding overlap in structures for the provision of assistance, such as those in the field of transportation. It was also important to understand that assistance in kind was sometimes more readily available than cash assistance and easier to deliver in larger quantities. His Government was encouraging non-governmental organizations in Bulgaria to donate medicines and equipment. The national Red Cross was the primary agency organizing those efforts.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) expressed his country’s condolences to the Government and people of Algeria.
He said that while the military campaign had brought an end to a tyrannical regime, the problems of the Iraqi people were far from over. The security situation and the breakdown of basic services had created a vicious cycle that must be addressed rapidly before it resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe.
Underlining the critical importance of security, he sought further details on the distribution of food, medicine and vaccination in outlying areas. What was the relationship between United Nations agencies and humanitarian agencies, and tribal leaders in seeking to achieve the optimal objective?
Regarding education, he noted that, in some areas, the school year had been lost and asked whether it would be possible to allow children, particularly young girls, to return to school or to extend the school year. Humanitarian, economic and social issues were closely linked, especially in Iraq, and it was essential to accelerate the provision of basic goods and services, which would assist in the economic recovery.
He asked whether the humanitarian agencies believed they would be able to carry out their tasks in the coming six months. How did they foresee the future? How did UNDP intend to pursue its Umm Qasr dredging project? While the page had turned on Saddam, the world was concerned to see how the Iraqi people would deal with questions of survival, take charge of the their lives and rebuild their country, he concluded.
MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) thanked the specialized agencies for their work and expressed appreciation for the fact that their staff members were accomplishing many things, in spite of great risks to their lives. Declaring that the adoption of the resolution this morning would bring more security to Iraq, he asked the agencies what further steps could be taken to reach that same goal.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the historic resolution passed this morning confirmed the role of the United Nations and the international community in the future of Iraq. The resolution called on Member States to contribute to the United Nations’ appeal. The United States continued to provide for humanitarian relief in Iraq on the macro and micro level. The amount of work being done throughout the country was immense.
He said security was the key problem, as had been emphasized by speakers. Every effort was being made to bring the security situation under control. Among other things, the coalition was taking steps to reduce availability of weapons. There were also teams on the ground for law enforcement, justice and prison affairs. Training in that regard was being undertaken, and coalition partners were asked to provide police advisers. Payment of salaries would also contribute to addressing the situation.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was providing micro grants to strengthen the capacity of local and community institutions. It was also working to provide communication links among ministries. He noted that the ministries were ready to start paying salaries in Baghdad on 24 May. Emergency cash payments had been made to civil servants outside of Baghdad. There was economic activity resuming in different ways, both cash and barter.
On human rights, USAID’s abuse and prevention unit was tracking acts of retribution, had located mass graves, and coordinated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to promote tolerance and respect for the rule of law. His country was also addressing health and nutrition issues. Demining missions and projects to restore power and supply equipment for necessary power repairs were among the projects under way.
JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that, with the adoption of the resolution today, the international community had expressed its desire to settle the humanitarian, political and social problems of Iraq. It was now time to reverse the effects of many years of sanctions. He noted that Iraq had resources, human and material, that would benefit its people. What was important immediately, however, was the normal functioning of hospitals, schools and sanitation systems. He believed the reconstruction of Iraq would create jobs for Iraqis, and hoped that they would seize this moment in history to right the wrongs that had befallen them. It was important for the Security Council to remain seized of the matter in Iraq.
Turning to the UNDP representative, he asked to what extent the adoption of today’s resolution would strengthen that agency’s mandate for Iraq’s reconstruction. He also wished to know when one would be able to see concrete improvements in the country.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that he was concerned with ongoing instability in Iraq and that the full resumption of international humanitarian work was not possible right now. Citing the alarming inability to provide central and southern Iraq with clean drinking water, he emphasized that establishing water supply systems in the major cities required the restoration of water treatment plants, which had been damaged because of combat and looting.
Noting the current shortage of medical staff and equipment, he also highlighted the electrical crisis in Iraq. Electricity was essential for the smooth running of hospitals, schools, water treatment plants, and many other institutions required for humanitarian well-being, he said. Turning to the Iraqi economy, he said it was vital to implement the maximum amount of contracts made under the oil-for-food programme. They would be needed for the economic reconstruction of Iraq and were necessary for the resolution of Iraq’s humanitarian crisis.
JULIAN KING (United Kingdom) said that, while the humanitarian situation in Iraq was getting better, the challenges should not be underestimated. A major concern continued to be security, which was at the top of the coalition’s agenda. The coalition was addressing short-term security problems and beginning to plan for medium- to longer-term security issues, including the transfer of responsibilities to Iraqis. There were already 1,000 Iraqi police participating in joint patrols with British personnel.
The United Kingdom, he continued, was working to involve Iraqis in civil administration structures, as well, and was working on the restoration of basic services. Eighty per cent of Basra now had access to water, 75 per cent to the sewage system. All hospitals had been provided with power, fuel and water supplies. A detailed assessment of the agencies regarding the impact of security would be helpful. Security concerns had not stopped efforts to meet humanitarian needs. The overall objective was to provide support where there was the greatest need. Coordination, however, was vital. He, therefore, looked forward to discussions on how the Humanitarian Coordinator and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative could help. Non-governmental organizations should be factored in, as well.
His country would help Iraq to reach its full potential, he stated. For the next six months, it would focus on reducing dependence; creating transparent governance; ensuring full participation of the Iraqi people, including women, in defining government structures; and ensuring delivery of essential public services. A key concern was the participation of women in Iraq.
Regarding reports of the discovery of mass graves, he said securing evidence linked to war crimes was a priority for commanders on the ground. A team of nine forensic experts had departed for Baghdad yesterday.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said that the agencies were facing a very daunting task, one that had no precedent. After all, in Iraq, the entire State and its infrastructure had collapsed. He expressed concern about the relationship that would have to develop between United Nations agencies, concerned with humanitarian aspects, and the Authority. They would, after all, be operating in the same space.
He asked agency representatives if their workers had a secure-enough environment in which they could carry out their humanitarian assistance. He also wanted to know if any Iraqi civilian, non-religious institutions might emerge to support humanitarian efforts. He remarked that looting and the lack of security seemed linked to the Iraqis’ complete loss of faith in institutions entrusted with public law and order. In that regard, he noted a growing number of criminal organizations in the country.
Referring to talk of kidnappings and abuse of women in Iraq, he wondered if the agencies could inform the Council about the nature and scope of those phenomena. Specifically, he wanted to know if they were linked to revenge against the previous regime. He also asked agency representatives whether or not work patterns, concerning security, the amount of staff members, and staff mobility, were being designed to efficiently meet humanitarian needs. Finally, he asked if the United Nations Special Representative would coordinate the work of all United Nations agencies and construct a single work plan.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said he was pleased with the progress made in humanitarian activities in Iraq by United Nations agencies. After a decade of sanctions and the recent war, the humanitarian situation was quite grave. His Government had provided timely emergency humanitarian supplies and was ready to work with the international community to alleviate the situation.
He said, at present, the security situation was a major concern, impeding humanitarian assistance efforts of the United Nations. He called on the parties concerned to fulfil their responsibilities under international law and give relief workers access and ensure their safety.
The resolution adopted this morning had laid the groundwork for the United Nations to play a significant role in the reconstruction of Iraq. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General would assist in various aspects of the reconstruction, thereby facilitating the orderly proceeding of efforts. The oil-for-food programme had played a huge role in the past for providing humanitarian relief. He hoped the programme would coordinate with the parties concerned to minimize the impact on the humanitarian situation in Iraq of its gradual termination.
CRISTIÁN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) shared the security concerns expressed by others. He hoped the situation would improve rapidly so that humanitarian assistance could be provided and the rebuilding could start.
As had been noted, he said, religious groups were taking control of some services. In that regard, he asked if measures were taken to address that situation. He would also like to know more about salaries and wages to be paid to local workers. How long would it take to return to the 480,000 metric tons of foodstuffs that used to be distributed in the country? he asked. Regarding the mass graves, he asked who was taking responsibility in the field for the identification and return of remains.
ANA MARÍA MENÉNDEZ (Spain) said that one of her Government’s priorities was to address the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. She noted that Spain’s contributions had unfolded in various areas. First, her Government had responded to the Secretary-General’s flash appeal by contributing $75.4 million. More money had been contributed through the European Union and separate grants.
The second aspect of Spain’s response had involved its human contribution, she said. Specifically, as soon as the coalition began operations in Iraq, her Government sent 900 men and women to Iraq as a humanitarian response unit. Turning to the immediate future, and concerning the security situation in Iraq, Spain was considering sending security officers to maintain law and order and train Iraqi security forces. She hoped that those efforts would contribute to the stability and well-being of the Iraqi people.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said the discussion today was of symbolic importance, as it took place on the very day that a resolution had been adopted to address the challenges in post-conflict Iraq. The situation in Iraq remained extremely fragile. The security conditions continued to be of concern. He was struck by information regarding the kidnapping of women and young girls in schools, which could lead to a climate of exclusion of women. Coordination of all agencies’ efforts was crucial and could improve with the establishment of the Special Representative post. Special attention should be given to the humanitarian and reconstruction phase and how they overlapped.
In that regard, he asked whether stock of coordination efforts had already been taken, and what the expectations were regarding the Special Representative’s mandate. He also asked WHO and the ICRC how they were dealing with parallel structures being established in hospitals. He asked the representative of UNDP what the situation was regarding demining and how that could affect reconstruction. Regarding Iraq’s food situation, he asked if the possibility of procurement by the United Nations of local production, funded by the oil-for-food programme, was being explored.
Responding to questions, Mr. MORRIS, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, said that as of 1 June, the 480,000 metric ton requirement would be in place. For the coming five months, the WFP would help provide that food through oil-for-food programme resources and donor funds. After that period, he hoped the interim administration could take over the distribution system already in place.
He said there would be enough food to feed the people of Iraq through the end of the year, and the WFP focused on local food purchases with proceeds from the oil-for-food programme. Security was everyone’s top priority. A lot of the turmoil related to the uncertainty the Iraqi people had regarding continuous food supplies.
Commenting on remarks regarding coordination, he stressed that the United Nations family worked well together on the ground, as it did with Red Cross and non-governmental organization partners. The WFP also had good coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade.
Mr. BROWN, UNDP Administrator, said that his organization was working with municipal authorities and other local groups to facilitate reconstruction. He also noted that the coalition forces had gone out of their way to engage the UNDP in discussions.
He said that the first humanitarian phase involved an effort to return Iraqi living standards to what they had been in 2000. Following that, there would be an attempt to return the standards to what they were 20 years ago, before the Iran-Iraq war. He stressed that Iraqis, using their own resources and capacities, could take the lead in reconstructing their country. Iraq, after all, was a rich country with talented people.
Under the oil-for-food programme, he had already found that $270 million in contracts could still be delivered and were in place to provide critical services, such as electricity. However, more than half of the ongoing electrical reconstruction efforts would not be completed before the remaining six months of the programme.
Responding to a question about how this morning’s resolution had changed UNDP’s mandate, he said it had not been expressly altered. However, the mandate would be changed by the Secretary-General’s management follow-up. He expected to coordinate the activities of the United Nations Development Group on needs assessment and reconstruction, in partnership with the World Bank, the IMF, and other donors. He would also focus the efforts on the democratic governance mandate, encouraging Iraqis to govern themselves and strengthening election procedures, among other things.
As to how long reconstruction would take and its cost, he said it would be very expensive. However, he hoped that Iraqi resources would be able to finance it. Referring to a question about the dredging operation in the port of Um Qasr, he said it was financed by oil-for-food contracts. Under another oil-for-food contract, his organization would be able to remove 19 shipwrecks that were blocking entry to the port.
Responding to the question on Iraqi civilian institutions, he stated that there was enormous resilience on the part of civil society organizations, both religious and secular. They had been the social glue of Iraq and needed to be involved in reconstruction.
With respect to demining, he had sent an expert to Iraq, to work with the authority’s thousands of deminers. He did not wish to duplicate the work of the authority. He did, however, want to build an Iraqi national mine-clearing center.
Mr. NABBARO, from WHO, said the vacuum of authority was indeed a key issue. Leaders of hospitals were not sure whom they were working for. He stressed that looting had not been carried out by hospital staff. Hospital staff had tried to prevent looting and had been working for many weeks without pay. It was important to restore normality for the time being. It was, therefore, necessary to have a visible authority locally. There was no doubt that if services were back, the phenomenon of takeover of hospitals by local groups was less likely. The restarting of public services was of critical importance. There was also a need to restore confidence in existing institutions, as well as pay salaries and restore telecommunications.
Regarding coordination, he said many contributions had already been made to the health sector. However, sometimes it was difficult to get everybody to work under common principles, which could lead to unevenness in the services provided. Working together was, therefore, important. The relationship with the authority had often been challenging, but had changed over the last week. There was now a new and exciting spirit of cooperation.
Regarding the oil-for-food programme, he said it was difficult to keep a pipeline open in a situation where a mechanism was turned on, turned off and changed often. He was, therefore, anxious about changeover after the oil-for-food programme. Despite all that, he predicted that the situation would greatly improve in the foreseeable future.
Mr. KASTBERG, UNICEF, addressing oil-for-food contracts, said that his organization had adopted 19 contracts under the programme. Turning to education, he acknowledged that school enrolment rates were still low. They had not normalized and needed to be strengthened. He theorized that physical improvement of Iraqi schools, which had been dilapidated for years, would increase attendance rates. Teaching methodologies and curricula also needed to be updated. Some schools were located in dangerous locations. Thus, security played an important role in improving education. With regard to secondary education, examination booklets were being printed so that the annual exams could take place.
Responding to requests for advice regarding the reduction of malnutrition, he said that it was necessary to focus on clean water and sanitation. Additionally, because infant formulas were causing an enormous increase in diarrhoea, breast-feeding needed to be encouraged. Furthermore, the availability of affordable food needed to be increased. With respect to security, women and girls were currently afraid to leave their houses in many parts of the country. That needed to be changed. In addition, improvements that had been made in water treatment plants continued to be rendered worthless because of looting.
Mr. KELLENBERGER, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said his organization had maintained a strong presence in the field during difficult times. The Council could count on the ICRC to fulfill its mandate under the Geneva Conventions, including addressing the question of missing persons.
Health services varied widely from one place to another, he said. In that regard, he underlined the importance of administrative and health structures. He was encouraged by additional measures to be taken to improve security.
The ICRC, as an independent organization, was ready to coordinate activities with United Nations agencies and other humanitarian actors, as it had done in the past. A precondition for coordination, however, was that each actor tried to focus on its core competence and its competitive advantage. All humanitarian actors owed it to the donor community and to the population of Iraq to avoid duplications and to identify gaps.
KENZO OSHIMA, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said his recent visit to Iraq had confirmed his concerns about security, the lack of law and order, and the payment of salaries. He warned that, if not addressed, the declining humanitarian situation could lead to a serious crisis. He was looking into revising the flash appeal, in light of the new situation on the ground and the resolution that had been adopted this morning. After conducting needs assessment for the widest possible area, he would be able to launch that revision towards the end of June.
With regard to establishing a working relationship with the Iraqi people, he confirmed that there was a considerable depth of human resources in the country. The strong institutional base had been disrupted but could be deployed again quickly if salaries were paid. He noted that senior ministerial officials in Iraq had expressed their desire to be consulted and involved in the priority setting and planning exercises, and he stressed that their wishes should be respected as much as possible.
Summarizing the discussion, the Council’s President, MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), said today’s debate had been very informative and enhanced understanding of the situation. Council members had been reassured by the fact that key humanitarian needs were being addressed. It was also heartening that the United Nations family seemed to be working well together, and working with local Iraqi authorities and coalition partners. The resources to undertake humanitarian activities seemed to be available, including through the oil-for-food programme. The changes resulting from the provisions of resolution 1483 would require undertaking a needs assessment. The role of the United Nations, he stated, had been broadened with the adoption of resolution 1483 this morning.
Explanation of Position
Mr. MEKDAD (Syria) said he would have voted in favor of the resolution adopted this morning, had more time been granted before the vote. For many years, his Government had been calling for the lifting of sanctions against the people of Iraq, and he was pleased that the resolution would finally allow for that.
He stressed, however, that Syria’s vote should definitely not be interpreted as a change in its staunch anti-war position. The war had been illegitimate. He could not imagine that the United Nations would ever legitimize foreign occupation. His delegation had attempted to introduce fundamental amendments to the draft resolution. Those amendments would have given the United Nations a central role in Iraq, and explicitly ensured that the Iraqi people would be able to enjoy the wealth of their country and be free from foreign occupation. Before concluding, he emphasized his desire for the unity of the Security Council, as it would enhance international security.
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