ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a special session dedicated to Iraq on Wednesday in which the international body's envoy addressed security, the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and called on political actors "to overcome infighting and allow compromise to prevail in the interest of the Iraqi people."
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was highly critical of protracted negotiations that have failed, for months, to allow the formation of a new Iraqi government.
Speaking to the council at UN headquarters in New York, she said it was "high-time for leaders to shift the focus from factional politics and invest in addressing the immediate needs of the citizens."
The UN representative and former Dutch Defense Minister also added that there were "experienced Iraqi women well-qualified for jobs in government."
On the security front, Hennis-Plasschaert noted that terrorist activities in Iraq had decreased, but said that the Islamic State "continues to pose a security threat to the whole region, while armed groups are expanding their economic and social reach."
She also expressed concern about Turkey’s military airstrikes on alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets inside the Kurdistan Region, "and the loss of civilian life and livelihoods."
On the positive side, she praised 2019 budget allocations for the electricity sector, saying that such a move "reflects the government’s efforts to improve basic service delivery."
Turning quickly back to less favorable assessments, she said that "funding for reconstruction in liberated areas is far less available than what is needed," blaming state over-reliance on oil revenues and corruption, which she said, "remains vast and fighting it is not easy."
Interestingly, she also addressed, fairly prominently, the agreement reached in January between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to unify customs duties, saying, "A speedy implementation of this agreement should now be a priority for both sides."
UN agencies aim to meet the needs of 1.75 million vulnerable Iraqis this year, she said, adding that its 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan seeks $700 million from donors.
"It will take many years and billions of dollars to rebuild the country."
Echoing the calls of several other speakers, China’s delegate said "the international community must respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," a UN statement reported.
The Security Council is made up of five permanent member states – China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US – and ten non-permanent member states which serve two-year terms. Currently, those are Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, South Africa.