Middle East.

 
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On 24 August 2004, in his first visit to the country since his appointment, the top UN envoy for Iraq, Secretary-General's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi discussed the United Nations role in reconstruction and development efforts with senior officials of the Interim Government. Mr. Qazi and Planning Minister Mahdi al-Hafez of Iraq focused their discussions on reconstruction efforts in cities like Najaf and Al-Sadr in Baghdad, the scene of fierce fighting.

"Unemployment and poverty lead to the proliferation of crime and terrorism", Mr. al-Hafez said. They also discussed the Government's development priorities, with the Iraqi Minister calling for an active UN role in his country's reconstruction and rehabilitation programme, as well as in the transitional political process. Minister of State Kassim Daoud also attended the meeting. Mr. Qazi pledged the full support of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), security circumstances permitting, to help the Iraqi people, in cooperation with the Interim Government.

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With the Mission's deployment, the UN presence in that country has been reestablished. However, a light footprint was unavoidable in the current security situation, Mr Qazi told the Security Council on 14 September. He said security had to be a paramount concern to the United Nations. Two days earlier, the Council unanimously renewed UNAMI for a further year. The Mission's tasks include coordinating various humanitarian operations and helping the war-ravaged country to organize elections by the end of January 2005 and draft a new constitution. Reaffirming that the United Nations should play a leading role in assisting the Iraqi Government and people in the formation of institutions for a representative government, the Council said that it would review the UNAMI mandate in twelve months or sooner, if requested by the Government. The Mission was initially established by the Security Council on 14 August 2003, when Mr. Annan called for it to have a staff, both international and local, of over 300. On 19 August 2003, a terrorist bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad took the lives of 22 persons, including the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello, and wounded over 100.

Due to the security situation, international staff working for the United Nations in Iraq were "operating at the outer limit of acceptable and prudent risk", and the ceiling of UN international substantive...

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