|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7149th Meeting (PM)
Anbar Province Terrorism Major Threat to Building Democratic State
In Iraq, Top United Nations Official Warns Security Council
Permanent Representative Calls for Political Solution to Conflict
Continuing attempts by trained, well-armed and deep-pocketed terrorist and militant groups to impose their will through violence in Anbar, Iraq's largest province, were threatening the country's stability and had stifled its legislative process, the senior United Nations official in Iraq told the Security Council today.
"The Anbar crisis poses the most serious challenge to the Government of Iraq's efforts to maintain the very stability and security needed for building Iraq's democratic State," Nickolay Mladenov, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said, warning that the crisis was beginning to impact other parts of the country.
During his briefing to the 15-member Council, Mr. Mladenov introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the Mission’s activities since mid-November 2013 (document S/2014/190).
He said that since the onset of the crisis in December more than 66,000 families had been displaced and many remained trapped in areas of active conflict. The intensity and nature of the fighting had significantly constrained access by the United Nations and other humanitarian actors to people in need. Moreover, Iraq's Council of Representatives had witnessed boycotts by three of its largest blocs, crushing its ability to secure a quorum for most of its session.
Ramadi, the capital of Anbar governorate, had recently returned to Government control, he said. But, isolated pockets of fighting remained and sophisticated booby-trap explosives planted by terrorists in buildings and along roads had thwarted the ability of many families to return to their homes.
The Government’s 14-point plan to restore stability and security in Anbar aimed to build trust among federal, provincial and local actors, and strategic cooperation on the ground, he said. It had set a deadline for ending hostilities, as well as an amnesty period for insurgents not affiliated with terrorist groups. To scale up the police force in the country’s provinces, the Government had recruited 5,000 tribal members and 7,000 local residents from Anbar. It had given 1,940 affected families in Anbar financial compensation and planned to support development projects in the area. But, the cessation of hostilities was short-lived.
“The signs are not promising for an early resolution of the crisis,” he said, stressing that, while a security response was vital to tackle armed groups and terrorists, human rights protection, equality before the law and the inclusion of marginalized groups would be a prerequisite for any political resolution.
Moreover, the situation in Fallujah, which remained under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and other armed groups, was worrisome, he said, pointing to sporadic shelling of neighbourhoods, including of the General Hospital, and civilian casualties. Many residents had fled, but large numbers remained trapped, with limited access to food and basic services. He welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s assurances that the Iraqi Security Forces would not enter the city and that the Government was working towards a political solution that would allow legitimate authorities to return.
The United Nations continued to deliver humanitarian aid where possible, and had recently accessed areas previously unreachable, he said. Still, the Organization’s supplies and those of its partners were diminishing rapidly. Without more funding, aid to people fleeing the fighting in Anbar would end, he warned, calling on Iraq’s Government and the international community to urgently support the $103.7 million Strategic Response Plan launched earlier in the month.
Refugees residing in Camp Hurriya, a temporary transit location outside of Baghdad, had been relocated outside Iraq, mainly to Albania and Germany, he said. On 5 January, the Secretary-General appointed Jane Holl-Lute as Special Adviser for that relocation process, and recently the United States had admitted many such residents inside its own borders and given $1 million in seed funding to the United Nations trust fund for resettlement in third countries.
On legislative challenges, he said unresolved negotiations on oil export rights and the sharing of oil revenues between the Federal Government and the Kurdish Regional Government had delayed passage of the 2014 federal budget law. Mr. Mladenov, having used his good offices to start talks between the authorities in Baghdad and Erbil, hailed efforts by the United States to facilitate an interim agreement on the budget, under which the Kurdistan Regional Government would begin exporting 100,000 barrels of oil daily through Iraq’s existing pipeline network to Turkey without precondition.
Regarding the national elections and those of governorate council representatives in the Kurdistan region, scheduled for 30 April, he said technical preparations were on track and both elections should take place on time. To date, 75 per cent of new electronic voter cards had been distributed, and security arrangements were in place, including in Anbar. UNAMI had embedded a staff member with the High Electoral Security Committee to ensure voters could reach polling stations safely. He appealed to all political parties to focus their platforms on the future, not the past, in order to build a harmonious, cohesive society.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s second report on Security Council resolution 2107 (2013) (document S/2014/191), on missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, and missing Kuwaiti property, he regretted the lack of new developments in that area. Despite the collection in recent months of 100,000 books, academic thesis and other objects belonging to Kuwaitis, to date no human remains had been found since 2004.
In March, in his first visit to Kuwait in his capacity as Special Representative of the Secretary-General, he met with that country’s Emir, Prime Minister and other top Government officials, as well as the National Committee on Missing Persons and Prisoners of War. Since mid-November, UNAMI had served as an observer to Iraq’s two related inter-ministerial bodies. “We have noted the sincerity and the resolve of the Iraqis,” he said, hailing those bodies’ efforts and calling on them to meet soon and use the occasion to return Kuwaiti belongings.
To aid the search, UNAMI could adopt a new local approach to find information, maintain the spotlight on such an important, sensitive humanitarian issue, and assess how it could best obtain useful information from a wider circle of potential sources, he said.
Iraq’s representative, highlighting recent events, said terrorist attacks had plagued his country over the past years and if nothing was done to stop armed groups from attacking civilians, the situation would only worsen. In response to terrorist attacks in the Anbar Province, Iraq had adopted a multifaceted policy to, among other things, protect civilians and to rebuild the area, he said, calling on the international community to help to bring an end the presence of terrorist groups in Iraq.
On regional and global levels, Iraq had taken an active role in anti-terrorism initiatives, he said, expressing support for efforts that aimed at increasing cooperation and information-sharing among neighbouring States to end the spread of armed terrorists. Warning Council members that the absence of a solution to the Syrian conflict would only fuel terrorist actions in the region, he reiterated a call to urgently find a political solution to the conflict. He also pointed out that Iraq was currently hosting more than 250,000 Syrian refugees.
Turning to a range of areas of concern, he said Iraq’s Government had launched a plan to bolster women's participation in conflict prevention and was working on resolving issues with Kuwait, including land borders.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 3:45 p.m.
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