Thursday, 29 August 2019 14:36

UN Representative Hennis-Plasschaert urges continued funding for Iraq’s post-conflict recovery, welcomes government efforts to spare Iraq regional tensions, calls on political actors to work together to face the country’s challenges

New York / Baghdad, 29 August 2019 – Briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Iraq, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, urged the international community to continue its critical support for Iraq’s post-conflict recovery. She welcomed the government’s multilateral diplomacy efforts in the context of regional tensions, and called on Iraq’s political actors to work together to tackle priorities, including placing all arms under state control, strengthening institution-building and enacting reforms.

Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert recalled “the historic importance” of the Security Council’s visit to Baghdad on 29 June 2019, saying the Council members delivered “important, well-received assurances of your continued support for Iraq and its people”.

The Special Representative said that the underfunding of the post-conflict stabilization and humanitarian response, with gaps of approximately 300 and 500 million dollars respectively, is hindering the country’s recovery. She welcomed the Government of Iraq’s signing of a cost-sharing agreement on 28 August 2019 to begin making its own contributions to the UNDP Funding Facility for Stabilization, expressed sincere hope for the continued and generous support of the international community, and encouraged the development partners to continue their funding to the Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP), particularly through the UN Trust Fund.

Although 4.3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned home, the pace has slowed, and outstanding needs are most acute in the health, electricity and water sectors, she said. “Around 1.6 million Internally Displaced Persons are still desperately waiting to return to their homes in safety and dignity”.

Iraq bears the scars of a heavy past while present challenges continue to slow progress, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert said.

“The harsh reality is that the government needs time to fight the many narrow partisan interests that are out there, it needs time to deliver. Just as essentially, political parties and other actors need to arrive at a common understanding that the country’s interests should be prioritized above all else. Ultimately, it must be clear that a government cannot go it alone – it is a joint responsibility”.

She noted that some of the recent amendments to the Governorate Elections Law “are of great concern”. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), she added, will continue to highlight the importance of universal suffrage and the need for transparency and accountability of electoral institutions and processes. All key to the inclusiveness and credibility of these elections”.

The Special Representative said the completion of government formations in Baghdad and Erbil and improved Baghdad-Erbil relations pave the way for deep discussions on the pending issues, citing encouraging signs as a result of the goodwill demonstrated by all the parties to address and normalise the situation in Kirkuk. She offered UNAMI’s good offices to advance discussions towards consensus followed by action. On Sinjar, she again urged the federal and Kurdistan Region authorities to promptly work towards bridging their differences for the sake of the residents of the area.

Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert welcomed government efforts to bring all armed groups under state control, stressing that security sector reform is a necessity. “Zero tolerance for any armed actor outside state control is the way forward”.

The Special Representative commended Iraq’s leadership “for its unwavering commitment to multilateral diplomacy” in their quest to make Iraq “a meeting ground for stability and not a venue for proxy conflict” in a perilous regional context. “With this in mind, we should be lucid and recognize that current tensions could well deal a huge blow to all national and international endeavours to rebuild a stable and prosperous Iraq. We must spare no effort in avoiding this prospect.”

Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert welcomed as a significant breakthrough the recent identification of the remains of a number of Kuwaitis missing since the 1990-1991 Gulf conflict. “I truly hope that the recent discoveries will finally bring some relief to the families of the missing, to whom we extend our deepest sympathies”.

She also reported that on 28 August 2019, over 40,000 Kuwaiti books belonging to the Amiri and National Archives were handed over by the Government of Iraq to the Kuwaiti authorities.

The Special Representative commended the bravery of the security forces who remain locked in a fight with the remnants of ISIL. She noted that the issue of returning former ISIL fighters continues to pose challenges for Iraq. A structured dialogue is required to precisely define how the Government of Iraq will handle this process, which will in turn inform the modalities of UN assistance, she said, stressing the paramount importance of robust safeguards for detention, due process and fair trial.

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  • Agency: UNAMI

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