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[casi] [1] Sevan's statement plus SC transcript; [2] UN leaves Baghdad


Benon Sevan's statement to the Security Council on the 'phasing-down' of OFF
(re: Felicity's earlier post) has been released, along with a full transcript of
the proceedings (isn't the latter a rarity?).  See and (latter is PDF

Sevan's statement may have been overtaken by events, however, as the UN today
announced it's temporarily leaving Baghdad due to security concerns.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

U.N. to withdraw staff from Baghdad
Move follows attack on HQ, Red Cross building

      UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 29 —  The United Nations is temporarily pulling its
staff out of Baghdad while it evaluates the security situation, but U.N. workers
will remain in northern Iraq, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

        “WE HAVE ASKED our staff in Baghdad to come out temporarily for
consultations with a team from headquarters on the future of our operations, in
particular security arrangements that we would need to take to operate in Iraq,”
U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said late Wednesday.
       “This decision is not an evacuation and it doesn’t affect the north.”
       Okabe would not say when the staff would leave Baghdad or give other
       U.N. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said about 20 U.N.
staff members remained in Baghdad and some 40 others across Iraq.
       The U.N. decision was announced two days after a deadly suicide car
bombing at the Baghdad headquarters of the Red Cross.
       The International Committee of the Red Cross and the humanitarian group
Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, also said Wednesday that
they were pulling out workers, despite pleas from the U.S. administration. to

Aid groups reduce staff in Iraq
       The ICRC said it reconsidered its deployment in Iraq following a wave of
suicide bombings in Baghdad on Monday. One of the attacks badly damaged the
agency’s Baghdad headquarters, killing two Iraqi Red Cross employees and as many
as 10 other people outside the compound.
       Secretary-General Kofi Annan in late September ordered all but a skeleton
U.N. staff needed for essential services to leave the country following two
bombings at the world body’s headquarters in Baghdad.
       U.N. security in Baghdad and other troublespots is expected to be at the
top of the agenda at meetings being held by Annan on Friday and Saturday with
the heads of U.N. agencies.

         The European Union’s aid agency also said on Thursday it may close its
Baghdad office.
       “The ECHO office is still open, but I don’t rule out that it may be
closed completely if we consider that it is not safe for our personnel,” senior
agency official Ruth Albuquerque told reporters in Bangkok.
       The European Union Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) said it was reviewing
daily the risk to its three expatriate and five local staff in Baghdad.
       Albuquerque, head of the ECHO unit responsible for Iraq, Asia and Latin
America, said its work in Iraq was being hindered by the violence, but only a
few projects had been suspended.
       But with the countryside around the capital becoming more dangerous, the
agency was sending staff on short trips from neighboring Jordan to monitor
projects in the country.
       “We really carry on, which is becoming more and more difficult because
one of the most dangerous things in Baghdad is not to stay there, it’s travel,”
she said.
       Other aid agencies and non-governmental organizations are expected to cut
back their presence, dealing a fresh blow to the international humanitarian
effort in Iraq.
       “They are already running very high risks. You know that we are being
targeted because we are humanitarian. I think the ICRC showed this very well,”
Albuquerque said.

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