Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 12, 2020
Thank you, Mr. President.
First of all, I would like to begin by expressing our condemnation of the May 10 attack against a MINUSMA convoy and express our deepest condolences to the victims’ families in Chad. We underscore the importance of ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers and we call on the Government of Mali to swiftly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
I had the distinct pleasure of being able to have a conversation this morning with Jeanine, and I must say, as she states, the challenges are many; I can tell you that she is certainly up to this challenge and I feel more confident than ever after speaking with her that the elections will be by the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi people, as she said. And thank you so much for your time with me this morning, because its really given me the confidence to be able to go back to the Trump Administration, as you well know, spoke with the Prime Minister yesterday and so I feel very confident in our conversation.
Last week’s confirmation of Prime Minister al-Kadhimi by Iraq’s Council of Representatives marks a tremendous achievement. In the face of COVID-19, low oil prices, and long-standing economic and security challenges – including state control of armed groups – Iraq could not have asked for a more capable leader. With Kadhimi as prime minister and you, Jeanine, as the special representative leading UNAMI, Iraq is well positioned to navigate its many challenges. The Trump administration looks forward to helping Iraq’s new government realize its bold agenda and deliver a life of dignity, security, and prosperity to all Iraqis.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global threat, the likes of which we have not seen in 100 years. As we know all too well, this virus knows no borders, and it does not discriminate based on communal or sectarian identities. Iraq’s new government will have to be vigilant and proactive to ensure that COVID does not reverse our hard-fought progress in restoring Iraqi stability. To help prevent any such reversal, the United States has provided nearly $30 million in COVID-19 assistance for Iraq. This funding is helping to implement a public-health emergency plan, prepare laboratories for medical work, and much more. It also builds upon the United States’ long-term investment in Iraq, which adds up to more than $70 billion in total U.S. assistance in the past 20 years – including nearly four billion for the health sector.
But funding on its own will not be enough. And on that note, we must recognize that many relief actors – including U.S. partners – continue to report access constraints in providing humanitarian assistance on the ground. We commend UNAMI’s advocacy to resolve this issue, and we urge Iraqi authorities to find a permanent solution to ensure the delivery of this vital assistance.
We cannot – and we will not – forget about Iraqi protestors from all walks of life expressing their legitimate economic and governance grievances. We will also not forget the human rights abuses perpetrated against them in recent months. UNAMI’s work is invaluable in monitoring and documenting such human rights violations and abuses. Iraq’s new government must follow the paper trail and bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses.
As Jeanine highlighted, we welcome again UNAMI’s continued engagement on the Kuwaiti missing persons and archives file. Finally, I would like to reiterate our strong belief in these credible elections representing Iraq’s best opportunity to usher in structural change, genuine reforms, and a better life for all Iraqi citizens. We urge UNAMI to heed the call of Iraqis across the political and social spectrum – a call demanding UN-supported, Iraqi-led, Iraqi-owned elections that, as Jeanine said, must be free and fair. With UNAMI’s help, the Iraqi government can restore public faith in elections – and it can provide a credible vehicle for carrying out the people’s will.