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Annan Temporarily Withdraws UN Staff From Iraq

Annan temporarily withdraws UN international staff from Iraq over insecurity

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today ordered a temporary withdrawal of remaining United Nations international staff from as Iraq as he continues to review the security situation after last month's terrorist attack in Baghdad that killed 22 people, including top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

"This is not an evacuation, just a further downsizing, and the security situation in the country remains under constant review," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told a news briefing of the decision, taken on the advice Mr. Annan's Security Coordinator, Tun Myat.

Today there remain 42 international staff in Baghdad and 44 in northern Iraq out of a total of some 650 there as the UN resumed operations after the war ended in April, and those numbers can be expected to shrink further over the next few days, he added.

"Meanwhile, our essential humanitarian activities in Iraq continue, thanks to the efforts of our more than 4,000 national staff in the country," Mr. Eckhard said.

Mr. Annan has repeatedly vowed to continue the UN's operations in Iraq but has equally forcefully called for enhanced security arrangements.

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