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UN Talks toIraqi politicians, jurists, journalists

UN envoy continues talks with Iraqi politicians, jurists, journalists

United Nations envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, in a second week of talks with a wide spectrum of Iraqi society, today met with the head of the Iraqi Constitutional Monarchists Movement, Sherif Ali Bin Hussein, who told him the UN should not only play a humanitarian role but also be active in the political and reconstruction spheres.

Mr. Vieira de Mello, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, also met with a group of Iraqi jurists who emphasized the urgent task of ensuring security and justice. They stressed that the current initiative by the United States-run provisional Authority did not provide for consultations and said they believed major decisions were made about the legal framework and the judiciary with no Iraqi participation.

Mr. Vieira de Mello assured them the UN would make every effort to raise their concerns with the Authority and pledged UN support for rebuilding the justice system in the context of resolution 1483, which established its current mandate in Iraq.

Yesterday, he met with a group of Iraqi journalists and assured them that he was committed to helping them create a free and independent media as soon as possible. He said that he, along with various UN agencies in Baghdad, would organize tangible support for the emergence of a free press in Iraq.

On Saturday, Mr. Vieira de Mello made his first foray outside Baghdad, traveling to Basra in the south, where he told a group of local political, religious and tribal leaders that the UN was determined to do its utmost to see Iraqis rule themselves and form a democratically elected government that would meet the aspirations of all the people.

On the humanitarian front, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are helping the Iraqi Ministry of Health to immunize the country’s 4.2 million children under the age of five against preventable diseases such as polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles and tuberculosis.

“In the past three months, approximately 210,000 children have been born in Iraq,” UNICEF’s Representative in Iraq, Carel de Rooy, said. “Not one of these children has been vaccinated against the myriad of deadly and debilitating diseases young children are susceptible to.”

This is the first routine immunization since the start of the armed conflict in March. Following a missile strike on the Vaccine and Serum Institute in Baghdad and subsequent looting, UNICEF has been bringing in millions of doses of vaccines.


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