Iraq must "act now" to meet growing population's needs, Plasschaert says

Iraq must "act now" to meet growing population's needs, Plasschaert says

Shafaq News/ The Iraqi government holds the key to meeting the needs of the country's growing population but it must "act now", the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said on Tuesday.

The Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) made those remarks in a briefing before the Security Council on the situation in Iraq earlier today.

"With the conflict raging in Gaza, GoI efforts are focused on avoiding a domestic (and regional) spillover," she said. "Still, continued attacks have become a harsh reality."

"These attacks originate from within and outside of the country’s borders, and stand to undo Iraq’s hard-won stability," she added.

"For Iraq to further continue on its path of stability and progress, an enabling environment will prove essential. Such an environment requires restraint from all sides."

"Messaging by strikes only serves to heighten tensions, to kill or injure people and to destroy property," Hennis-Plasschaert continued. "Rather than resorting to force, all efforts should center on safeguarding Iraq from being drawn in any way into a wider conflict."

"It is of greatest importance that all attacks cease. Iraq (and, indeed, the wider region) remain on a knife-edge, with the tiniest miscalculation threatening a major conflagration."

UNAMI chief praised the "broadly peaceful and technically sound manner" of the 2023" election. She said It marked "another milestone in government efforts to break from past cycles of dysfunction."

"We truly hope re-establishment of local representative bodies will signify another major step forward."

"A challenge for future elections will be to rally a higher voter turnout and, importantly, to encourage Iraq’s eligible voters to register."

"Reforms and development are critical to unlocking a brighter future for all Iraqis. One in which young people can use their skills and capacities to better their lives and communities, rather than taking to the streets out of desperation, or worse: taking up arms."

"Iraq’s participation in the COP28 Summit produced some promising commitments," she said. "Focus must now shift to mitigation and adaptation. Without moving from promises to action, opportunities may slip away fast."

"Feelings of exclusion and marginalization often lead to recurring cycles of conflict. Managing diversity is never easy, but if done well represents a major win in preventing instability, mistrust, violence and in promoting respect for human rights. Key to this is the rule of law."

Hennis-Plasschaert warned the Kurdistan region that "continued postponements of elections do not help already low trust levels, nor do they contribute to Iraq’s stability."

"Baghdad-Erbil wrangling on financial and budgetary issues goes on. It is the people who suffer. Financing for January is welcomed, but a more permanent solution is desperately needed."

"No government can go it alone. We can only hope all politicians will continue working to put Iraq on the clearest path to success, in all of Iraqis’ best interest. The same goes for any other actor, in or outside Iraq: they are expected to support this objective, rather than to thwart it."

"The need for sustainable progress, for real reform, for better living standards will not decline. Iraq’s population grows every year. While Government of Iraq plans hold the key to meeting these needs, they will become more difficult to realize with each passing year," she said." The time to act is now."

"I stress again importance of enabling environment and urgent need to cease attacks from in/outside Iraq. And, as stated in past, this must include reining in armed actors operating outside state control. The enormous risks and potential devastating consequences cannot be overstated."

"In December 2018, I arrived in Baghdad. Now, five years later, it is almost time to say goodbye. I expect to depart from this position at the end of May. This is not easy. Through the many highs and lows, Iraq simply has become part of me."

"I can only hope that one day, inshallah, people from around the world will get to know the real Iraq. A country of immense beauty. A country of rich diversity and culture, where there are many opportunities to grasp."

"I pay tribute to all Iraqi men and women. For their sacrifices, their strength and the depth of their commitment to building a prosperous, democratic and peaceful Iraq. Long live Iraq," she concluded.

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