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UN rejects Baghdads charge that WHO staff were denied clearances to visit

In a letter to the Ambassador of Iraq released today, Benon Sevan, the UN Security Coordinator and the Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, said “contrary to what you have been informed, neither the Office of the UN Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD) nor the UN Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq received a request for security clearances” for members of the WHO mission. “I should like to assure you that had there been such a request, security clearance would have been given promptly,” Mr. Sevan stressed. Mr. Sevan expressed regret that the matter had been used “as yet another opportunity to make aspersions against United Nations personnel working in Iraq as well as to the manner decisions are taken within UNSECOORD, questioning our integrity as international civil servants and our commitment to assist the Iraqi people at this very difficult period.”Baghdad’s charges, contained in a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan dated 11 July, concerned a planned visit by WHO to finalize agreement on studying the impact of depleted-uranium munitions on Iraq. A WHO representative has already clarified the matter with the Iraqi Ambassador in Geneva, and a revised schedule for the mission’s visit is now under consideration, according to Mr. Sevan’s letter. read more