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UN Concerned Over Plight Of Civilians In Falluja

Iraq: UN Human Rights Chief Concerned Over Plight Of Civilians In Falluja

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today voiced deep concern about the situation of civilians caught up in the ongoing fighting in Falluja, Iraq and called on all concerned to protect them.

Through her spokesman in Geneva, Louise Arbour cited allegations that the rules of war designed to shield civilians and combatants had been broken during the current confrontation.

"All violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law must be investigated and those responsible for breaches - including deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons and the use of human shields - must be brought to justice, be they members of the Multinational Force or insurgents," spokesman José Diaz told reporters.

He also voiced the High Commissioner's concern about poor access to humanitarian aid in Falluja and about the lack of information regarding the number of civilian casualties.

Ms. Arbour called on parties in the fighting to take "every possible precaution" to protect civilians," he said.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it was closely monitoring the situation of internally displaced persons and others affected by the events in Falluja and has pledged to help Iraqi institutions provide food through the public distribution system if necessary.

In other developments, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Ashraf Qazi, met today in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi for talks on how to advance the political process in the country, a UN spokesman said.

Discussions also dealt with the security situation in the country and preparations for national election, set to take place towards the end of January, Fred Eckhard told the press in New York.

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