Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

International organizations in Iraq are bugging out.

Yesterday's bombing of the UN HQ in Iraq brought widespread international condemnation and vows to stay the course until Iraq is rebuilt, but it also seems to be bringing about a new realism of the high risks for those who work in the reconstruction.

The European Commission is recalling staffmembers from Baghdad, which could end up delaying EU reconstruction aid to Iraq. "The mission has been disbanded. The staff are trying to make their way out of the country.... Obviously our need assessment process will be affected by what has happened."

Likewise, UN operations in Iraq will be suspended until better security is in place. UN workers are being asked to stay home for now. This means that UNICEF will also shut down operations for the time being... Christopher Klein-Beekman, UNICEF's No. 2 person in Iraq, was also killed in the bombing.

Christian Children's Fund, which sent a team of workers to advise on children's issues and see how CCF could provide greater assistance, have had at least one worker killed and one wounded in the blast...

And finally, this story reports that World Bank and the IMF are also pulling out of Iraq.

The US and Britain are trying their best to put a good face on this issue, and to get the international community to redouble their efforts towards the reconstruction, but the results seem to be mixed.

There are about 300 UN staff members in Baghdad, and more than 600 around the country, assisted by thousands of local employees. Some agencies have been delivering food, water, medicine and educational materials throughout the country, while other U.N. employees have been working with Iraqi groups on preparing eventual elections. An upgraded threat level would allow only the staffers providing basic humanitarian services to stay, and a top-level alert would cause all employees to be withdrawn.

This isn't the first attack on UN volunteers in Iraq. The U.N. World Food Program office in Mosul was previously attacked and two other incidents have occurred in which UN aid workers have been killed.

Although UN volunteers have the option of going home, most are staying in Iraq for now... but they are spinning their wheels at a time when there is an urgent need for their work, without which Iraqi anger might lead to even greater acts of violence.

It should be remembered that some Iraqis don't view the UN as the people who are trying to help them get back on their feet. For many, the UN are the same people who imposed a decade of harsh sanctions that led to their current impoverished state... and when it's 120 degrees with no air conditioning and you can't get fresh running water and can't find work, then everyone starts to look like an enemy...

"The United Nations presence in Iraq remains vulnerable to any who would seek to target our organization. Our security continues to rely significantly on the reputation of the United Nations, our ability to demonstrate meaningfully that we are in Iraq to assist its people, and our independence." - Vieira de Mello, a month before he was killed in yesterday's bombing

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