Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director for Arab States visits Baghdad to reinforce partnership and announce expanded presence

16 Nov 2011

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A senior United Nations Development Programme official visited Baghdad on 16 November where she announced an increased presence of staff in Iraq and confirmed a renewed commitment to the Iraqi people through enhanced partnership and cooperation.

"We have tripled the number of our staff based in Iraq to 44 with further increases planned in the next year. Each and every one of them is committed to improving the lives of Iraqis through an enhanced partnership with the Government of Iraq and its people" said Ms. Amat Al Alim Alsoswa UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Ms Alsoswa began her visit to Baghdad meeting with the Foreign Minister Mr. Hoshyar Zebari where they discussed the development needs of Iraq, engaging more women in the peace and reconciliation process, cost sharing of projects and the increased UNDP presence in the country. Ms. Alsoswa also met with several other top government officials and representatives from civil society, the private sector and the international community. " I am truly delighted and honoured to be in Baghdad. I take note of the significant progress that Iraq has achieved in overcoming years of conflict and is now on the right development track" Ms Alsoswa added.

Ms. Alsoswa was appointed in December 2005 by the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and Director of its Regional Bureau for Arab States. In this post, Alsoswa has led UNDP’s 18 programme offices in the Arab region in their efforts to develop national capacities for poverty reduction, democratic governance, sustainable development, crisis prevention and recovery, and women’s empowerment. She has also provided regional thought leadership through the launching of two editions of the Arab Human Development Report, in 2006 and 2009, and in the preparation of the forthcoming 2012 edition.

Welcoming Ms. Al-Soswa to Baghdad, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Iraq Ms. Christine McNab said: "This visit boosts UNDP's work in Iraq where it has been actively engaged in supporting Iraq's efforts in the areas of democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery and energy and environment".

Ms. Alsoswa's visit came in a key time for UNDP Iraq. In the coming years the Programme will look at enhanced engagement with the Government of Iraq as a key partner to support Iraq in its endeavors in the areas of fighting corruption, improving basic services, protecting human rights and generating sustainable jobs. During the visit Peter Batchelor UNDP Iraq Country Director said "UNDP has recently signed a new four-year country programme with the Government of Iraq. This partnership focuses on strengthening democratic governance, combating poverty, empowering Iraqi women and youth, promoting environmental protection and supporting the revitalisation of Iraq's economy".

Since its establishment in Iraq in 1960, UNDP has worked to support the Government and people of Iraq in the areas of democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, and energy and environment. Since 2003, UNDP has been supporting a range of emergency physical rehabilitation projects to restore basic service delivery, including water and electricity.

"Most recently, UNDP has contributed to strengthening the democratic process in Iraq primarily through its support to the 2010 national elections" said Mr. Batchelor during a press conference organized for the visit. "UNDP also continues to work on anti-corruption, rule of law, justice, human rights, public sector reform, disaster risk reduction, and environment and climate change issues" he added.