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[casi] The final two? Da Silva and Tun Myat step aside.


Barely two-weeks before the planned end of Oil-for-Food (on Nov. 21), two former
UN Humanitarian Coordinators -- Ramiro Lopez da Silva and Tun Myat -- have
stepped aside during an internal security probe.

I know nothing of UN office politics, but it would be a travesty if these two
were asked to fall on their swords for security risks that are not of their
making, and from which there is no protection.

Here's my roster of UN Humanitarian Coordinators in Iraq (corrections solicited):

- Staffan de Mistura
- Denis Halliday (resigned in protest)
- Hans von Sponeck (resigned in protest)
- Tun Myat (transferred within UN after saying, 'If by resigning today I could
end sanctions tomorrow, I would.')
- Ramiro Lopez da Silva (elevated to UN chief in Aug-2003 after Baghdad bombing
killed Sergio Vieira de Mello)

This job, as the Economist said, turned incumbents into radicals.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA


Published: 2003/11/04 18:50:43 GMT

UN men step aside over Iraq blast
The head of the UN mission in Iraq and another senior official have been
relieved of duties after criticism of safety precautions in the country. Ramiro
Lopez da Silva and security chief Tun Myat asked to be relieved while a security
review is conducted.

An independent panel blamed officials for security lapses after the August
bombing of the UN compound in Iraq.

Mr Lopez da Silva's predecessor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was among 23 people
killed in the attack.


Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the two men would still provide information to
a new team created to investigate who was responsible for lapses in security in
the weeks leading up to the bombing.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has reportedly appointed Gerald Walzer, the UN's
former deputy high commissioner for refugees, to head the investigation.

The independent report, released in October and compiled by former Finnish
President Martti Ahtisaari, condemned the UN for "sloppy" security procedures
which left the UN compound in Baghdad vulnerable to attack.

"The security awareness within the country team did not match the hostile
environment," it said.

The report also stated that the current UN security management was
"dysfunctional" and provided "little guarantee of security" to UN staff based
either in Iraq or in other high-risk environments.

More than 100 people were wounded in the 19 August attack on the UN compound in
Baghdad, when suicide bombers apparently drove a lorry packed with explosives
into the building.

BBC correspondent Greg Barrow at the UN says staff committees have been lobbying
for months for senior managers to be held accountable for security lapses they
say were apparent right at the start of the UN's return to Iraq after the fall
of Saddam Hussein.

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