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UN pleased with logistical feat of Iraq elections

UN electoral chief 'extremely pleased' with logistical feat of Iraq elections

Using the term "incredible" several times, the chief United Nations electoral official who led the team giving technical aid and advice for Iraq's national poll on Sunday said today she was "extremely pleased" over what she called "the biggest logistic exercise" since the invasion of the country in terms of just moving materials around.

"I have participated in many elections in my life," Carina Perelli, chief of the UN Electoral Assistance Division, told a news briefing in New York. "This was probably one of the most moving elections I have ever seen because it was basically people making a very dignified, peaceful demonstration that the will of the people has to be heard.

"And it is, I think, a message for all of us that beyond our discussions, beyond our diagnosis, beyond our expertise, normal people have something to say about their destinies," said Ms. Perelli, who has overseen voting in regions as far apart as the Palestinian territories and East Timor.

"I wouldn't go into triumphalism because basically this is a long process that has started, but we should not forget that, I mean, a people walking towards the polls is still one of the centrepieces of what this house, the UN, stands for," she added.

Ms. Perelli said it was "an incredible exercise" recruiting electoral workers and training them in a context of immense intimidation, and "an incredible story that probably has not been highlighted enough" that 95,000 people were mobilized as party and national observers.

"In a context of fear when you have to run risks that means an incredible, vibrant civil society…to act as a watchdog of the capacity and transparency and quality of your elections," she added.

"Finally I think that the Iraqi people have not only expressed their wish, their political will to take the process in their own hands and in that sense it is an incredibly important first step for the transition process of this year, but also it was an expression of trust in their own institutions," she declared.

Meanwhile on the ground, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) continued working with Iraqi ministries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in providing humanitarian assistance and support for the reconstruction process.

In Fallujah, the UN and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) distributed supplies to over 26,000 families displaced due to the current violence. Working with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is also providing emergency health support to children and their families in conflict areas.

UNAMI and other UN agencies are also closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in Mosul and a number of other locations in light of the escalation in violence.

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