Iraq Security Council members support pullout of five UN staff for safety

In a statement to the press on behalf of the members, Council President Jean-David Levitte of France expressed full backing for the decision by the Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, who withdrew the staff for their own safety after Baghdad declared them persona non grata. The Council President said he would contact the Iraqi Permanent Representative to the UN to seek clarification on the matter. “For the time being, we have no detailed information about what they could have done, and this is why I will have a discussion with Ambassador Muhammad Aldouri, to go beyond what we know and to insist on the importance to get more information,” he said. Ambassador Levitte also reaffirmed the members’ full support for the Iraq Programme, particularly its “personnel on the ground who carry out their task under difficult conditions.” Ambassador Levitte’s comments followed a closed-door briefing to the Council by Mr. Sevan, who expressed regret that “we still have not received any detail or supporting evidence to the charges levelled against the five staff members concerned.” Mr. Sevan stressed that all UN staff members in Iraq are under strict instructions to carry out their tasks in full compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions as well as the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Secretariat and the Baghdad Government. “All staff members are also under strict instructions to observe local rules and regulations as well as respect fully Iraqi national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “I should like to assure you,” he told the Council, “that my decision, which was a difficult one to take, was taken purely out of concern for the personal safety and security of the staff members concerned.” read more