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Permanent humanitarian staff presence in Basra

Iraq: UN humanitarian staff establish permanent presence in Basra

The United Nations today established a permanent presence of humanitarian staff in war-ravaged Basra, Iraq's largest southern city and home to over 1 million people.

In announcing this development, the world body pledged to coordinate emergency relief efforts, working with non-governmental organizations and liaising with local authorities in Basra to evaluate critical needs and provide targeted assistance to the area's most vulnerable people.

The UN, which has re-established its presence in Baghdad and Erbil, also announced plans to send humanitarian staff to Mosul and Hilla as soon as conditions permit.

Today, 25 staff from the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) arrived in Basra from Kuwait to set up offices and living accommodation in the city.

Staff from other UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), are slated to join the team tomorrow to expand humanitarian activities in Basra, which needs assistance to restore health, sanitation, water, food and education services, as well as help in clearing unexploded ammunition.

With the new deployments, the UN now has about 100 international staff located in Iraq on a permanent basis.

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