The United Nations representative paints a bleak picture of Iraq and warns of a new slide
The United Nations representative paints a bleak picture of Iraq and warns of a new slide
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The UN Special Representative for Iraq (UNAMI) and the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Janine Henness-Plasskart, made the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Iraq, which was held in New York on Tuesday.
“I would like to begin my briefing by talking about my recent visit to a mass grave in the Samawah desert with the President of the Republic, Mr. Barham Salih. This cemetery is a stark testimony to the horrific crimes of Saddam Hussein against many of his people, who were in that case of the Kurdish people. Was a very moving experience, which once again confirms that Iraq’s past characterized by violence and lawlessness still casts a shadow over its present. But that experience also showed how far the transition from dictatorial to democratic Iraq was unusual in the 21st century.
Yes, in order for democracy to truly take hold, it needs time … a lot of time and a lot of hard work.
Mr. President, we must recognize that the current internal political conflict is an expensive obstacle. A year after the general elections, ministers still have to be named to fill important ministerial portfolios: interior, defense, justice and education. Political parties have so far shown no willingness to compromise.
But it must be understood that political concessions are not evidence of weakness, but are in fact evidence of political maturity and adaptive capacity requirements.
At a slow but confident pace, the chairmen, vice-chairpersons and rapporteurs of the parliamentary committees are being selected, a major obstacle to initiating parliamentary action. This is not yet complete, but it is already time, as important laws are still awaiting legislation.
With regard to the KRG negotiations, I am pleased to inform you of the important progress made recently. After 218 days of negotiations, a new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) agreement was signed on 5 May. To avoid further problems, the new government could be ready in June.
Mr. President, I am not revealing that Iraqi authorities, institutions, mechanisms and systems are still struggling against deep-rooted problems that have often thwarted rapid and strong responses by the Government to urgent needs such as reconstruction, development and security.
A scheme can be drawn up to classify these problems as a set of individual interests and pretexts, many of which are due to long-standing grievances and differences between the components and the political entities, and between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Tight.
In some ways, this also illustrates why the many opportunities arising from intensified reconciliation efforts have not been fully taken into account.
Mr. President, In this context, it is also necessary to address the scourge of corruption at all levels in Iraq.
Corruption consumes the money that should be spent on public services and goes to private pockets instead. But it also prevents economic activities, which hinder business development, which can result in the creation of jobs that are most needed.
As I stated in my previous briefing to the Security Council, it is encouraging that the Government has clearly engaged in addressing this.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has made clear that “corruption distorts the image and reputation of the state at the local and international levels.” This is absolutely true. Corruption not only questions Iraq’s credibility, but also its sustainability, responsiveness and effectiveness.
The change will not come overnight, so it is important to highlight the issue of corruption over and over again. Achieving concrete results will be crucial in many respects and, more importantly, will restore the confidence of the people and are a key factor in the further development of the democratic system in Iraq.
Mr. President, The oil sector is the pillar of the Iraqi economy, with the existence of enormous oil potential has not been explored yet. But to achieve that, there are important challenges to be addressed.
Here, too, in short: the public interest should prevail over private or party interests, which would enable the entire country to benefit. Accordingly, I look forward to renewed engagement in important oil and gas laws and revenue sharing.
Mr. President, another is that Iraq can achieve its full potential only through the active political, social and economic participation of women and young people.
We have witnessed, organized and recently participated in many events related to women and young people throughout the country. Although they are useful experiences for everyone involved, I would caution against change, which is merely a formality.
Ultimately, it is about translating good intentions into positive action. Unfortunately, Iraq has not yet appointed its first female minister.
In another but closely related context to women and girls: there is the Domestic Violence Act. A sensitive and important issue at the same time for the Iraqis. I would like to commend the Iraqi leadership for taking important steps towards enacting this law.
This law provides full protection of the legal rights and shelter needs of all victims of domestic violence. I mean all victims: not just women and girls.
I sincerely hope that lawmakers will pass this law in line with the Iraqi Constitution, which prohibits all forms of violence and abuse within the family.
Mr. President, in a completely different and optimistic context: Baghdad is blooming. Very soon there will be no green zone. Where Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi promised from the first day to remove the walls of concrete protection and return the city to its people.
However, the security situation will still need careful monitoring, not only in Baghdad but throughout the country. The attacks continue, as we have seen in recent bombings and suicide attacks.
Another related issue: a threatening threat still exists. As one coalition representative said: “A supporter is emerging. I have rested and moved and is now active.
In this context, I am fully aware of the importance of continued broad international support. This support, which ensures that Iraq leaves the violent past behind and ensures that Iraq does not slide back to the unrest that has emerged from it recently.
In other words, in order to prevent the need to restore a strong foothold in Iraq, there must be a long-term approach.
Equally important, Mr. President, there is a case of fighters urging returnees from Syria to Iraq with their families.
The return of thousands and thousands of Iraqi and non-Iraqi people not only raises concerns about security and capabilities, but also humanitarian and human rights concerns. All this is not just an Iraqi problem.
We know that some countries prefer to maintain a “strategic distance” for their citizens. But again to clarify: this is not only an Iraqi problem. If poorly managed, it will affect us all in the region and beyond.
In addition, if we do not adequately address this issue, we risk creating fertile ground for a new generation of terrorists.
Now, there is a major security concern – the issue of armed actors operating outside the control of the state, engaging in illegal or criminal activities and exercising economic and social influence throughout the country.
It is clear that the activities of these parties undermine the authority of the State, affect vulnerable communities, weaken the national economy and, unfortunately, prevent the peaceful return of displaced persons.
In my talks with the Iraqi government, I welcomed certain measures, such as the closure of so-called illegal economic offices. But the road will certainly be long. It would therefore be important to hold accountable all armed groups engaged in criminal or illegal activity.
More broadly, I welcome the efforts of the Government in security sector reform. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Restructuring the “national security architecture” is particularly important. This includes in particular the status of future popular mobilization forces and the reform of the Peshmerga in a single regional security force.
Mr. President, as we saw last summer in the demonstrations that started in the south of the country, … the lack of water in Iraq could ignite social protests. A problem that, if not addressed, can dispel any gains made.
Although this past winter has seen heavy rains – including widespread catastrophic floods – simple reliance on heavy rains is not a strong national water strategy.
In a time of severe climate change, careful planning for all extreme weather conditions is of paramount importance. Thus establishing a comprehensive water storage and management program. But also to strengthen the country’s infrastructure and better prepare for the floods.
Mr. President, I am pleased to announce that the Iraqi leadership continues its dialogues with international and regional counterparts to establish itself as a reliable and capable partner.
Indeed, Iraq can be a stabilizing factor in a turbulent region. Instead of being a battleground, Iraq can provide space for regional reconciliation and pave the way for a regional security dialogue.
At the same time, we can not ignore that Iraq faces serious challenges in preventing its territory from becoming the scene of various rivalries.
So, to everyone who feels challenged, I say: imposing an additional burden on Iraq is really the last thing this country needs.
Mr. President, On 29 April, the United Nations launched the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019, in line with Iraq’s humanitarian plans.
Humanitarian needs remain high. Many displaced citizens continue to face serious obstacles to their return to their homes. These include: lack of civil documentation … an unstable security situation due to clashes between armed groups as well as harassment of checkpoints … they also include damaged and contaminated homes … inadequate basic services … as well as discrimination. In other words, the obstacles are diverse, complex and intertwined, unfortunately resulting in a halt in the movement of the return of displaced persons to their homes.
In addition to our humanitarian efforts, we continue to support stabilization and rehabilitation efforts in the most severely affected post-conflict areas.
Our Stabilization Fund has reached a major stage by rehabilitating the first 1,000 housing units out of the 15,000 planned homes for rehabilitation in the old city of Mosul. The completion was a continuation of previous successes in the rehabilitation of housing in Anbar province, where thousands of houses have already been rehabilitated.
In addition, the Stabilization Fund has completed the rehabilitation of several facilities, such as Mosul University, which currently hosts more than 20,000 students. A third main bridge was also restored in western Anbar, allowing more than 75,000 people access to basic services, such as hospitals and schools.
Mr. President, let me now turn to the issue of missing Kuwaitis, nationals of other countries and lost Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.
I would like to thank the States members of the tripartite mechanism for satellite imagery, which, in addition to witness testimony, has played a vital role in identifying the potential locations of missing Kuwaitis.
After years of hard work by many, I wish to commend the recent efforts of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in particular. I sincerely hope that we will be able to announce positive results soon.
Clearly, it is important that Iraq continue its efforts, including the location of national archives and other Kuwaiti property. We are all aware of its importance as an integral part of Kuwait’s national heritage.
Mr. President, I would like to conclude by referring to my recent visit to Sinjar, which brings together many of the points I have just raised. In Sinjar, I saw terrible destruction. That was what he did five years ago.
Regrettably, little has changed since the liberation of Sinjar. Many people still live in tents on the mountain they fled to at the start of the terrorist campaign.
In August, the world will commemorate the horrific events of five years ago. However, the existence of a single administration and the provision of security as a basis for the reconstruction of Sinjar have not yet been achieved.
Frankly, the continued failure to achieve this is a clear injustice. The Iraqi leadership in both Baghdad and Arbil must act now urgently and decisively.
In conclusion, Mr. President, yes, the challenges facing Iraq are complex, but with all these challenges, I would like to express – once again – our continued and strong commitment to help and support where we can.
President Barham Salih has stated very soon that the situation in Iraq is not good because the Iraqi people deserve much better. However, the situation is improving. This will take some time. But we will succeed with great determination and concerted action, he said. How right he was to say