18 March 2003

Secretary-General Authorizes Withdrawal of United Nations Personnel from Iraq

NEW YORK, 17 March (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General today informed the Security Council that, based on information which he had received from the United Kingdom and United States authorities regarding the continued safety and security of United Nations personnel, he had authorized the withdrawal of all remaining United Nations system personnel from Iraq. There are, at present, international staff in Iraq from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Office of the Iraq Programme and United Nations agencies, programmes and funds implementing the Oil for Food Programme. In addition, the Secretary-General has authorized

United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM), which patrols the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait, to withdraw.

As a result, all United Nations activities will be suspended until further notice. However, the Secretary-General has stated that the United Nations will find a way to resume its humanitarian activities to help the Iraqi people and do whatever it can to provide them assistance and support.

The Security Council took note of this decision.

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