United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres travelled from Jordan to Iraq early on Thursday, 30 March.
While in Baghdad, he met with Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, after which he held a brief press encounter. He told reporters that he was extremely encouraged by the commitment expressed by the Prime Minister, both in relation to the protection of civilians and to a national dialogue and an effective process of reconciliation.
The Secretary-General expressed the United Nations’ support to the Iraqi Government in humanitarian aid, and he appealed to the international community to support Iraq, both in providing relief to the victims of the violence, but also to stabilize and build up national Iraqi institutions.
While in Baghdad Mr. Guterres also met with Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari; Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri, the Speaker of Parliament; and later with President Mohammed Fuad Masum, at Assalam Palace.
The Secretary-General also held a town-hall meeting with United Nations staff.
He flew late in the day from Baghdad to Erbil where he met with President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani.
On Friday morning, 31 March, the Secretary-General visited the Hasansham camp in northern Iraq. The camp is home to about 13,000 people from the Mosul area who had been forced to flee since the fight to recapture Da’esh territory started the previous year.
At the camp, the Secretary-General spoke to the press and appealed for greater support from the international community for people who had suffered, first from having lived under Da’esh and now from being displaced. “Our resources are limited compared to the tragedy these people have lived,” he told journalists. The Secretary-General also appealed for more support for the reconciliation efforts at the community and national levels that will be needed once the liberation of Mosul has been completed.
Mr. Guterres also called for greater support for those soldiers who are on the front lines of fighting Da’esh in Iraq. “Fighting terrorism in Mosul is the same as fighting of terrorism anywhere, because terrorism has become a global threat,” the Secretary-General told the press.
During the visit, the Secretary-General was able to meet with families and visit an income-generating project for women, as well as a school. Camp residents told him of the harsh and oppressive reality of living in areas under Da’esh control where basic services and food were extremely scarce. The women explained to the Secretary-General that the situation was extremely trying for them. Many of them had escaped the area by walking miles and miles to safety.
Just before leaving Erbil for the camp, the Secretary-General met with a delegation of Yazidi elders who asked for support for their community. The Secretary-General told them that he had personally raised many of their concerns during his meetings with the Prime Minister of Iraq and the President of the Kurdish Regional Government on Thursday. He instructed the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) to remain in close contact with the community to ensure that there is sufficient support for those Yazidis who had escaped Da’esh control, especially women and girls. He also reiterated his call for accountability for crimes committed against the Yazidis and other communities.
The Secretary-General arrived back in New York late on 31 March.
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