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Ban urges Iraq to fulfill without delay hopes of Kuwaiti families ‘UNAMI and ICRC stand ready to assist’

NEW YORK, July 16, (KUNA): Pleased that the “increasing mutual trust and cooperation” between Iraq and Kuwait has created a “conducive environment for progress” on the humanitarian issues, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late Tuesday urged Iraqi officials to make sure the hopes of the Kuwaiti families that lost their loved ones during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait be fulfilled without delay.

In his periodic report on the issues of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, and missing Kuwaiti property, including archives, Ban said Kuwaiti families have shown “unyielding hope that one day the remains of their (loved ones) will be found. It is the duty of the Iraqi authorities ... to see that these hopes are realized without any further loss of time.” “I therefore urge Iraq to take advantage of any available cost-effective modern technology to address this humanitarian issue and strive for concrete results,” he pleaded, adding that the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the International Committee of the Red Cross stand ready to assist and will continue to provide their full assistance to promote and facilitate Iraqi efforts in this regard.

He expressed hope that UNAMI will be granted observer status in the Tripartite Commission and its Technical Subcommittee “at the earliest opportunity” to better fulfill its full mandated role in resolving this issue. He also said that tens of thousands of Iraqis, besides the over 300 Kuwaitis and third-country nationals, remain unaccounted for from the pre-2003 decades, stressing that the issue of the missing is a “tragic national issue that transcends international boundaries.” Ban said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki assured the UN Special Representative for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov when they met last March that Iraq “would make all resources available in the search for missing Kuwaiti persons, property and the national archives” and that Iraq “had no interest in keeping Kuwaiti documents, much less its national archives,” and that Iraq “stood ready to act on any piece of information for their location and return.” He said UNAMI is even ready to facilitate Iraqi efforts to reach out to members of the former regime, who might possess relevant information but are not in a position to cooperate with the Iraqi government, adding that Mladenov put an Iraqi witness in contact with the Foreign Ministry with a view to identifying a grave site inside Kuwait. No human remains were found.
“UNAMI is working with the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Human Rights to take the interview process forward,” he added. Ban expressed disappointment that no “evidence or information has emerged so far that would indicate the whereabouts of Kuwait’s national archives,” which Kuwait considers as its “identity, culture and history.” “I urge the Iraqi Inter-Ministerial Committee coordinating the search for missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives, to meet more frequently and to take advantage of UNAMI’s assistance in this matter. I call on the Government of Iraq to endeavour even more on this issue,” Ban said.
Nevertheless, he said Iraq handed over to Kuwait last month a number of artifacts, including a large copper plate with the seal of Kuwait, 26 tape recordings belonging to Radio Kuwait, three paintings with the seal of the Kuwaiti National Museum, and about 4,500 books and publications in both Arabic and English. Ban disclosed that the legal obstacles to Kuwait’s repossession of its Consular premises in Basra are expected to be resolved soon with the current occupant agreeing to move out. “Thus, the long-awaited plans for Kuwait to reopen its Consulate there are set to come to fruition,” he said. The Council is scheduled to examine the report next week.

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