Magazine article UN Chronicle

Special Missions Assess War Damage

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Special Missions Assess War Damage

Article excerpt

Two high-level missions were dispatched to Kuwait and Iraq in March to investigate the consequences of the war.

A UN inter-agency mission, led by Under-Secreatary-General Martin Ahtisaari, visited Iraq from 10 to 17 March and Kuwait from 23 to 27 March. Its purpose: to assess humanitarian needs in the "immediate post-crisis environment".

A second special mission, led by former Under-Secretary-General Abdulrahim A. Farah, visited Kuwait from 18 March through 4 April, to gain information on losses of life, Iraqi practices against civilians and damage to Kuwait's infrastructure.

The Ahtisaari mission reported (S/22409) that Kuwait had been "scarred by the ravages of illegal occupation and, subsidiarily, of war". A deliberate attempt had been made to extinguish Kuwaiti national identity; there had been "coordinated vandalism" and massive looting, it stated.

At least two thirds of Kuwaiti's estimated 2.3 million population were now scattered throughout the world. There was prolific evidence of arson and malicious destruction of homes, businesses, markets, museums and libraries, the report said.

Kuwait's oil industry would take longest to restore, it went on. Oil wells on fire well spewing flames, which created thick clouds of oily, dark smoke that brought "a chilly twilight" at noon, as well as "still-unchartered perils to health".

'Near apocalyptic'

As for Iraq, the Ahtisaari mission reported (S/22366) that the effect of the conflict on Iraq's economic infrastructure had been "near-apocalyptic". …

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