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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General’s press conference following his meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Baghdad, Iraq, 26 March 2016

As-salaam ‘alaykum

Good afternoon.

Great pleasure for me to visit Iraq again, I am pleased to be back in Baghdad for my eighth visit as Secretary-General and I am very much impressed by all the progress you have been making, particularly against Daesh.

Before I go on on specific issues, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences to the people and Government of Iraq, and particularly those members of the families affected by terrorist attacks yesterday in Iskanderiyeh, south of Baghdad.

They were [targeting] just civilian people who were enjoying sports, in a football stadium. That means these terrorists don’t care where and when and whom. This is totally unacceptable and should be defeated in the name of humanity. And I really appreciate Iraqi Government and people, their continuing commitment under the leadership of their Prime Minister, to fight against extremism and terrorism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have just held constructive talks with His Excellency Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and His Excellency the Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and with distinguished Ministers, on the security, political, economic and social reforms, as well as humanitarian and human rights situation in Iraq.
I am also very much happy to be joined by Dr. Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, and also Dr. Ali of the Islamic Development Bank. This is a joint and combined demonstration of our support for the noble efforts, sometimes very difficult efforts of the Iraqi Government in first of all securing peace and stability through national reconciliation and socio-economic reforms, thourgh inclusive dialogue.

I sincerely hope that our visit will continue to generate the strong support from the international.

I congratulate the Iraqi security forces, the Peshmerga, the popular mobilization forces and the sons of tribes for their recent advances, and I wish them success in the operations to liberate Mosul, Fallujah and other parts of the country.

I salute the Iraqi people for their sacrifices, patience and resilience in the face of Daesh’s murderous campaign, and I offer them my sincere condolences again for the countless lives lost.

I reiterate my call on Iraq’s regional and international partners to lend their support to the Government and people of Iraq in this fight. This support must be provided in full coordination and consultation with the Government of Iraq and with respect for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
I remain extremely concerned about the enormous challenges Iraq faces.

Daesh has subjected all Iraqis, but particularly minority communities, to murder, abduction, rape and other sexual violence.

By destroying and looting property and places of religious and cultural significance, Daesh are attempting to eradicate the identity and unity of Iraq and its people. Some 3,500 women, mainly Yezidi, remain enslaved and subjected to horrific violations on a daily basis.

Ten million people require some form of humanitarian assistance and 3.3 million are internally displaced. Iraq is among the most deadly countries in the world for civilians. Last year, more than 7,500 people were killed in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict. These challenges can only be met by tackling the root causes of conflict, ensuring justice and equality for all in an inclusive state based on democracy, the supremacy of the law and human rights.

I appeal to all friends of Iraq to continue their support for stabilization, reconciliation, reconstruction and de-mining work, and to the Government to accelerate efforts to restore the rule of law, including state control over security and weapons. This will allow the safe and voluntary return of displaced people to their homes.

National reconciliation is an important part of the strategy to defeat Daesh, who have ruthlessly exploited divisions and targeted the marginalized and disenfranchised. Iraq’s political, civil society, community and tribal leaders and representatives must work together towards inclusive peace and prosperity.

Iraq also faces enormous economic challenges, including the falling price of oil, inefficiencies and corruption. The international community is ready to offer more support, but Iraqis themselves must implement reforms that will put their country on the road to recovery. These reforms must include measures to empower women and young people, and to bring [about] greater social cohesion.

The United Nations remains steadfast in its support to the Government and people of Iraq. And I count on Prime Minister al-Abadi’s leadership.
Shukran.

Question: (on the support given to Iraq by the United Nations)

Secretary-General: About your question related to the United Nations, how the United Nations and the international community support Iraq in their fight against Daesh, terrorism, and also how we can help politically in the area of security and economic and social development, if I may just say that in principle, the United Nations is working very closely with Member States to counter terrorism and extremism in close coordination with Member States.

In that regard, I welcome the coalition who has been fighting ISIL in Syria and in Iraq and I hope that they will continue to provide such support. I have been saying that military operations may be effective, may be necessary and should be there, but from the beginning, in principle, we need to invest more in preventing this extremism and terrorism, [in understanding] why these young people join these young terrorist group fighters.

I have proposed some recommendations to the General Assembly and those recommendations have been unanimously adopted by the General Assembly. I am asking the Member States of the United Nations to consider, examine and apply whichever recommendations they find useful for their own countries. There are about 70 recommendations covering all spectrum of extremism and terrorism, starting from political economic, social and other means, [including] military means.

Therefore, we sincerely hope that this will be the basis of our common efforts to prevent and counter terrorism and extremism. For that, if I may ask the Member States, each and every Member States: I think their leadership should show good governance and provide socio-economic opportunities for young people and women, who otherwise could be disillusioned and frustrated. Then, they can easily become prey and easily fall trap to the ideologies of extremism and terrorism.

Anti corruption and preventing inequalities and injustice and impunity [is essential], so these societies should be seen by the people as fair and harmonious. Therefore, it will be very important that leaders of every country should lead by example.

At the same time, we should provide the necessary assistance, financial and technical support to those countries who need capacity-building. This is what the United Nations is doing. Even though we have limited resources, we are inviting security-related people, intelligence-related people, to try to build the capacity of the countries [that need it].

It should be a comprehensive approach covering all spectrum of our life.

Thank you.