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Annan opens Madrid donors’ conference for Iraq

Annan opens Madrid donors’ conference for Iraq with call for funds

– United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged some 70 nations at a donors’ conference to “give and give generously” to rebuild Iraq.

In the opening address at the Madrid International Conference on Reconstruction in Iraq, Mr. Annan said, “I know we all look forward to the earliest possible establishment of a sovereign Iraqi Government. But a start on reconstruction cannot be deferred until that day; it demands our urgent attention now. I appeal to donors to give and give generously.”

Mr. Annan added that governments should not take monies previously earmarked for other needs, and shift them to Iraq.

The contributions he was seeking in Madrid, he said, should “be provided in addition to existing commitments.”

“There is a world of suffering out there – deep-rooted crises from conflict to the spread of HIV/AIDS,” he said. “But if the will exists, the resources also exist to respond to all of them.”

“Our challenge now is two-fold,” he said, “to respond to Iraq's immediate humanitarian needs, and to get the country's reconstruction off to a determined start.”

Mr. Annan said the United Nations would work with the Iraqi Governing Council the United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and regional authorities, “to see what contributions we can make during the period ahead.”

He said he would do his “utmost” to carry out the mandate given him by last week’s unanimous Security Council resolution, “bearing in mind the inevitable constraints on building up the capacity required and my obligation to care for the safety and security of UN staff.”

A bomb blast in Baghdad 19 August killed 22 persons – including the UN’s top envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello – and wounded 150 more.

“The United Nations is determined to continue helping the Iraqi people as best we can, from both inside and outside the country, in providing humanitarian assistance and beginning reconstruction. As circumstances permit, I plan to proceed with the other tasks indicated in the resolution,” he said.

“This effort, ladies and gentlemen, will require our attention and engagement for many years. The people of Iraq have a hard road ahead of them, filled with both risk and opportunity. Let us not leave them to travel that road alone,” he said.


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