Iraqis have first chance in long while to reclaim their destiny Annan

“I would urge them to reconcile, to really make every effort to dialogue and not go the violent route and use the opportunity offered, to exercise their vote and help determine the future of their country,” he told journalists when asked if he had anything to tell the Iraqi people in this next month. “So, I would wish them a peaceful, democratic and participatory elections, as we move into the next year.”Asked about the escalating violence in the country and his concern over the safety of UN staff, he said it was “a tragic and a brutal situation” and he felt “very sorry yesterday,” when 24 people were killed and 72 injured, many of them United States troops, in an attack on a US military base in Mosul, just two days after car bombs killed 67 people in the Shiite Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.”It hits you in the stomach – when I was looking at the pictures after the attack,” he added. “And obviously it is in this climate that we are planning the elections, and I do have staff there. For the moment we do have adequate security arrangements, but it is of concern. It is of concern, and we are monitoring it very, very closely.”Meanwhile in Baghdad, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, reiterated the UN’s commitment to do everything it can to serve the Iraqi people and help them through the transitional process.He met with officials and political activists to discuss the process ahead of the elections and the role the UN is playing in the process by supporting the Independent Electoral Commission. In talks with Minister for Human Rights Bakhtiar Amin he stressed that the human rights unit of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) would continue to work with the ministry and other concerned organizations to support efforts to build an environment conducive to the application of international standards.He also held talks with the President of the Iraqi Independent Democrats, Adnan Bachache, Raad Maoulud Mukhlis, Secretary General of the Gathering for Iraq, and a number of activists from Falluja City and Anbar Governorate, scene of severe fighting between the US-led coalition forces and insurgents, as well as from Baghdad and Hilla.Mr. Qazi said political differences must be addressed through political dialogue within a political process aimed at building a stable and democratic Iraq.Meanwhile the UN has begun distributing food and other items to over 36,000 families from Fallujah displaced by the fighting through a joint programme led by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation with their partners in Iraq.The latest programme, which began on Monday, came at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government with which UNAMI has been coordinating its activities to provide humanitarian support. Throughout the recent Fallujah crisis, the UN continued to provide humanitarian aid to those in need, particularly the internally displaced persons (IDPs).The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been trucking water through local partners to IDP locations in the surrounding areas while the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has been assisting the Government by providing urgent medical supplies, including 100,000 blood bags, needs assessment, technical assistance and support for the current National Measles Campaign in IDP areas.Some 23 UN agencies, funds and programmes are working together through 11 clusters to coordinate international aid and offer help in rebuilding Iraq. The UN remains concerned about the precarious situation of the IDPs and reiterates the need for free and unfettered access to populations in need by the international humanitarian community.UNAMI said the world body stands ready to support the right of Fallujah residents to return home in dignity and safety following the operations by the US-led coalition. read more