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UN Envoy to Iraq Calls for Reform After Escalating Protest

ERBIL – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on Monday urged the Iraqi government to renew its reform efforts and expressed concern about violence during anti-corruption protests that have continued since the end of last year.
Amid continuing violence, security forces have killed more than 450 protesters and injured thousands more since the protests began four months ago.
Unofficial estimates amount to 600 dead among the protesters.
Hennis-Plasschaert stressed the importance of moving forward to meet the needs of the Iraqi people.
“The murder and injuries of peaceful protesters, combined with long years of broken promises, have resulted in a major crisis of confidence,” she said in a statement.
Crowds took to the streets in early October to voice their long-standing grievances over chronically inadequate public services, the poor standard of living and the spread of institutions among civil servants.
Hennis-Plasschaert noted that two months after Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi announced his resignation, political leaders have still failed to agree on the way forward.
“Although all actors have publicly acknowledged that urgent reform is necessary, it is now high time to put these words into practice and prevent these protests from derailing further from those who pursue their own goals,” she added.
“All the measures taken so far to address the concerns of the population will remain empty if they are not completed.”
The UN envoy to Iraq also recalled that the recent escalation of regional tensions between the United States and Iran has diverted attention from urgent and unfinished domestic affairs.
“However, geopolitical developments must not overshadow the legitimate demands of the Iraqi people. This will only fuel public anger and distrust.”
Hennis-Plasschaert called on Baghdad to do everything to protect peaceful demonstrators.
“The violent repression of peaceful demonstrators is intolerable and must be avoided at all costs. Nothing is more damaging than a climate of fear. Accountability and justice for victims are essential to building trust, legitimacy and resilience.”
She also called on protesters to remain peaceful, “avoiding counterproductive violence and the destruction of property.”
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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