UN fears insurgents, runs Iraq programs from Jordan

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The United Nations fears sending its staff to Iraq amid the executions of foreigners by Al Qaida insurgents.

UN officials said virtually all of the staffers from the world body were transferred in 2003 from Baghdad to neighboring Jordan. The officials said that since then the UN has been sending envoys from Amman to Baghdad to oversee more than $200 million in programs by the United Nations Development Program.

"We are trying to find creative ways to assist without necessarily overexposing our staff," UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said Friday.

Annan said the UN programs in Baghdad were being handled by Iraqis, including local staff and contractors. A team of Iraqis were also helping prepare for national elections in January 2005, which have been jeopardized by the increase in Sunni insurgency attacks and abductions.

"Those in Amman are operating within Iraq through the local staff and contractors," Annan said. "UNDP, for example, is handling a program of more than $200 million on the ground. UNICEF is involved in education and water.

So we are doing whatever we can from Amman, and where necessary we do cross-border trips."

Scores of UN staffers and others were killed in a bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003. A study ordered by Annan blamed poor security and recommended the dismissal of the UN security chief.

Annan was expected to appoint this week a special envoy to Iraq who would be based in Baghdad. UN sources said five candidates were being considered for the post.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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