UN offers to help Iraqi refugees return to Ramadi

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered Dec. 30 to help Iraq restore basic services to Ramadi and allow refugees to quickly return to the city after it was recaptured from jihadists. 

Ban made the offer during a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who visited Ramadi after his forces drove out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

Describing the recapture of Ramadi as “an important victory,” Ban “stressed the need for measures to be taken to restore the rule of law as well as basic services in Ramadi as to allow for the return of internally displaced persons as soon as possible.” 

He offered U.N. support, said a statement from his spokesman. 

Iraqi officials on Dec. 30 described widespread destruction in Ramadi from months of fighting with more than 3,000 homes ruined and roadside bombs and other explosive devices strewn across the city. 

Months of fighting in Ramadi have caused extensive destruction, officials said, warning that it was too soon for civilians to return to the Iraqi city after its recapture from jihadists. 

Iraqi forces declared victory on the night of Dec. 27 in the Ramadi battle after wresting back control of the city’s central government complex from ISIL. 

Some jihadist fighters have yet to be flushed out, mostly on the eastern edge of the city, and many reconquered areas have yet to be fully cleared of roadside bombs and booby traps. 

“There is extensive destruction in the city as a result of terrorist activity and military operations,” said Ibrahim al-Osej, a member of the Ramadi district council. 

Ban also expressed concern over the abduction of Qatari nationals in Iraq in December and urged Abadi “to do everything possible to ensure their prompt and safe return.” 

The 26 Qatari nationals were on a falconry expedition in southern Iraq when they were abducted at their camp by gunmen who turned up in dozens of pick-up trucks. 

Among those kidnapped are members of the Qatari royal family. Ban said the group included children.

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