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This gives a small insight into the UN's work in Iraq: Seb BAGHDAD, Jan 30 (AFP) - The United Nations, from behind the barbed wire of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, has found itself playing the role of "good cop, bad cop" in disarming Iraq while working at the same time to ease the blow of economic sanctions on its people. UN weapons inspectors at the centre of an on-off crisis since October over access to sites suspected of concealing banned weapons share the converted hotel with the UN coordinator's office for humanitarian aid. "While the UN aid agencies send back alarming reports of rising malnutrition and that the 'oil-for-food' is not enough, the inspectors go from crisis to crisis over Iraq's level of cooperation," said a diplomat. The diplomat, who asked not to be identified, said the Baghdad staff of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) in charge of dismantling Iraq's proscribed weapons and their UN colleagues in aid work made "uncomfortable bedfellows." "The inspectors are regarded as 'spooks' by genuine UN officials, not only by the Iraqis. But we can't say anything," said a Western aid worker who used to work out of the same hotel and did not want to be named. But several UNSCOM inspectors, interviewed behind the doors of UNSCOM which are fitted with an electronic combination lock, denied any friction. "We don't even see them. There's hardly any interaction except on the staircase," said Kevin O'Connell, a chief inspector in the hunt for germ warfare secrets who spoke with a North American accent but like the others refused to give his nationality. Guenther Heinecken, a missiles expert on his third assignment in Baghdad, said there also no hostility from ordinary Iraqis even though UNSCOM's work holds the key to lifting the seven-year-old sanctions which have impoverished their country. "People are polite. They wave to us and we wave back when we go out hunting for a pizza at night," said Alan Dacey, a 27-year-old British diplomat on assignment as special assistant to the director of the UN arms monitoring centre at the hotel. The inspectors, slammed as "agents of America" in public demonstrations, are easily recognizable in their white jeeps with UNSCOM emblazoned on the side. Faced with charges that they show little sensitivity to and have no knowledge of the Arab culture in which they operate, most of the inspectors declined to comment. "I've learnt how to say marhaba (hello)," ventured O'Connell. Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz last week slammed the "cops" of UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler who he said relied on forensics and suspicions rather than scientific methods. A spokesman for the Special Commission, which denies Iraqi accusations it is dominated by Washington, said the charges were aimed at policy-makers in New York and not the inspectors in the field who simply follow orders. Iraq maintains the United States is using UNSCOM to prolong sanctions, which have been in force since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and can not be lifted until the Special Commission certifies the elimination of Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors at the Canal Hotel said they are paid living expenses by the United Nations while receiving their "normal salaries" from the governments which nominated them to UNSCOM. They are UN personnel only during the three-to-six month duration of their contracts before being rotated. While the arms inspectors steal the limelight, being filmed by foreign TV crews as they head out each morning, UN aid workers have been quietly filing reports which are expected to result in an increase of Iraqi revenues under the oil-for-food accord. The deal, as it stands, authorizes Iraq to export two billion dollars worth of crude to finance imports of badly-needed food and medicine. Ironically for Iraq, it also pays for the work of UNSCOM. The three-storey hotel, which is only used as offices and not for sleeping quarters, also houses the World Food Programme and members of the UN observer mission for the Iraq-Kuwait border. Other agencies of the world body operating in Iraq are the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation, the children's fund UNICEF, the relief organisation for refugees, UNHCR, and the UN Development Programme. They are eager to keep the humanitarian issue separate from the ongoing tension between Iraq and the United Nations over weapons inspections.