UN Workers in Iraq Face Harassment And Visa `Crunch'
THE largest United Nations aid agency in Iraq said yesterday that visa and travel-permit problems were hampering the work of its international staff since a pact with the government expired five weeks ago.
Ezio Murzi, head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Iraq, said harassment of staff in Baghdad had dramatically increased in recent days and the situation was tense. A man with a handgun shot at a UN guard Sunday in front of a Baghdad hotel where UN personnel live in the latest of a string of problems faced by the staff of the world body.
The UN complained to authorities. Iraqi officials say such incidents are the work of individuals angered by the UN presence in Iraq 18 months after the Gulf war.
Mr. Murzi said "bad feelings" had surfaced among some Iraqis despite an agreement for UN arms inspectors to search the Agriculture Ministry last Tuesday after a three-week standoff. "The will of the government however is it wants to control the situation.... Its response was very prompt."
Murzi said "a major crunch" in obtaining visas for international UN staff started in April. Some were renewed but only until the end of June, when an agreement over 500 UN guards and 600 aid workers expired.
Iraq and the UN have been discussing renewing the agreement Kollek protects Arab homes
Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek said yesterday he would halt demolitions of illegally built Palestinian homes until the new Israeli government addressed a severe housing shortage in the Arab half of the holy city.
Mr. Kollek, mayor since 1966 and a promoter of Arab-Jewish coexistence, said he lacked the "emotional strength" to approve more demolitions after his municipality forced an Arab family to tear down their house overnight because they lacked permits.
"On the one hand I am not able to further building for Arabs, on the other hand I always have to demolish," Kollek told Israel Radio. "I don't want to sign on any more demolitions until I have clarified the issue with all the ministers."
The former hard-line government of Yitzhak Shamir, beaten by centrist Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in a June election, boosted Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem where 150,000 Palestinians and 140,000 Jews live.
Mr. Shamir's government also blocked construction of new homes for Arabs in East Jerusalem. Turks and Syrians agree on water
Turkey and Syria vowed yesterday to honor agreements on water-sharing and the activities of separatist Turkish Kurds, two issues that had strained relations between the two countries.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin said his country would respect a 1987 water-sharing pact requiring Turkey to allow an average of at least 500 cubic meters a second of Euphrates water into Syria.
Mr. Cetin was talking at a joint news conference in Damascus with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa before flying back to Turkey at the end of his talks in Syria.
He said a technical committee representing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq would meet soon to discuss the water issue. The dispute over water-sharing, a potentially explosive issue up for multinational discussion at the US-brokered Middle East peace talks, centered on control of the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers which rise in Turkey.
Mr. Sharaa said his country was implementing a security agreement signed last April in which Syria pledged to curb the activities of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) which had a major base in Lebanon's Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley.
The Marxist PKK launched a war against the Turkish government in 1984 for an independent state in southeast Turkey.