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Iraq: UN ready to help rebuild religious sites

Iraq: UN reiterates readiness to help rebuild damaged religious sites

The United Nations today confirmed its support for the Iraqi initiative to rebuild the Shiite Shrine of Imam Ali Al-Hadi bombed last week as well as other damaged religious sites in the country.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Ashraf Qazi, accompanied by his Deputy for Humanitarian Reconstruction and Development Staffan de Mistura, participated in a donor coordination meeting chaired by Iraqi Planning Minister Barham Saleh.

Mr. Qazi said the UN, through its Iraq trust fund and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) technical expertise, is ready to assist in rebuilding the damaged structures.

The meeting was attended by the head of the Shi’a Waqf (religious endowment), Shaikh Saleh El-Haidary and head of the Sunni Waqf, Shaikh Ahmad Al-Samarrai, as well as representatives from Austria, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United States and the World Bank.

The heads of the Shi’a and Sunni Waqfs welcomed the support of the international community and indicated that the initiative will also cover rehabilitation of the damaged churches.

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