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27 August 2003

Organized Crime To Be A Growing Problem In Iraq UNODC Fact- Finding Mission Reports

VIENNA, 27 August (UN Information Service) -- A four-member team from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently returned from a two-week fact finding mission in Iraq.

The mission, dispatched by Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC Executive Director, took place in response to a request by the late Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The purpose was to assess the extent of organized crime and drug trafficking, and to identify possible areas of interventions.

At one of the last meetings held prior to the tragic bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, -- during which Mr. de Mello and at least 22 other UN staff perished, -- the SRSG for Iraq received a debriefing from the UNODC staff. In paying him tribute, Bernard Frahi, who headed the UNODC mission team, said: “My colleagues and I were greatly impressed with Mr. de Mello’s commitment, dedication, vision and his personal leadership in promoting the UN’s role to assist the people of Iraq. His loss is an immense tragedy.”

After initial interviews in Baghdad, the mission team travelled extensively in the country.

The mission team made the following conclusions:

The UNODC mission report highlights a number of recommendations to complement the efforts of the CPA, Governing Council and of international aid agencies working in Iraq. The recommendations relate to legal assistance, institution and capacity building, prevention of drug abuse and the promotion of Iraq’s reintegration into regional and international cooperation agreements.