ARABS-UN - July 16 - International Staff Pulled From South Iraq.
UN spokesman in Iraq George Somerwill says the UN has pulled its
international observers out of southern Iraq because of safety fears. He
says: "It is in response to advice the UN has received that the [UN
humanitarian] coordinator [in Iraq] has decided not to deploy
international observers in the southern Iraqi provinces". Somerwill
says the decision was not taken in response to any specific incident.
(The decision comes less than 3 weeks after a gunman opened fire at the
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's [FAO] mission in Baghdad,
killing 2 people and wounding 7. The gunman said he was protesting
against international sanctions on Iraq. Around 150 UN observers travel
to various parts of Iraq to monitor the humanitarian needs bought under
an oil-for-food deal with the UN.) Somerwill says monitoring would be
done by local staff. Tun Myat, the newly appointed UN humanitarian
coordinator who is in charge of the oil-for-food programme in Iraq, says
delivery of food and medicine would not be disrupted in the 4 southern
provinces. (They are Basra, Dhi qar, Mesain and Qadissiya.) Asked how
long the observers would be kept away from the south, Myat says: "I
would not like to speculate but I do not expect this to last any length
of time. In fact I am hoping that we could resume it in 2 weeks".