The United Nations has withdrawn all its international observers in southern Iraq for security reasons, but its work will continue with Iraqi staffers, a UN spokesman in Baghdad said Sunday.
"We have withdrawn our international observers for security reasons," George Sommerwill, spokesman for the UN Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, told AFP in a statement.
"We have not suspended the work in the south, but we (will continue to) work with national Iraqi staff for the time being," Sommerwill said, adding that the "total number of international observers working in Iraq is 151."
Sommerwill said there had been "no incident or any specific event. The United Nations is responding to advice from different sources."
The move comes not three weeks after a gunman burst into the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) offices in Baghdad, killing two, one of whom was a Sudanese national, and wounding seven others.
The gunman said he had wanted to draw attention to the "genocide of thousands of Iraqis" under the UN embargo, which has been in force since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Since the shooting, the UN Security Council has reaffirmed the need to ensure the security of all personnel working for the UN program in Iraq and its support for humanitarian agencies - BAGHDAD (AFP)
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