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Goff welcomes Mountain's appointment

Goff welcomes Mountain's appointment

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today welcomed the appointment of New Zealander Ross Mountain as the Acting Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General to Iraq.

Mr Mountain is currently Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator and Director of the Geneva Office of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. He will temporarily fill the position previously held by Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died in a bomb attack on the UN's Baghdad headquarters in August.

“This appointment is a credit to Ross Mountain, and an acknowledgement of his ability and experience. He has spent his career helping people who are in desperate need, in circumstances that are truly testing,” Mr Goff said.

“Ross is one of only a handful of New Zealanders holding such a high-ranking position in the UN. He has worked for a number of different UN agencies, and his assignments have included Lebanon, Haiti, Liberia, Afghanistan and Fiji.

“Iraq is an extremely challenging environment to work in, but I have every confidence that Ross will be up to the task of leading the UN’s efforts there until a permanent appointment is made.

"Notwithstanding the bombing of the UN headquarters and other attacks on humanitarian workers, the task of rebuilding Iraq and returning the country to normalcy and self-rule has to be completed. The UN has an important role to play in assisting that transition," Mr Goff said.

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