Former Vatican Aide Appeals for Support of U.N. in Iraq

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Makes Plea in Wake of Bombing

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ROME, AUG. 22, 2003 ( A former Vatican representative at the United Nations in Geneva has called for support of this institution’s work in Iraq, especially after the bombing of its headquarters in Baghdad.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, recently appointed coadjutor of the Dublin Archdiocese, said: «We have the duty to guarantee that the United Nations mission continues and is not abandoned.»

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Martin emphasized that U.N. member states must help «these little protected international civil servants, who commit themselves on our behalf» to «win the peace.»

«From my point of view, I am sure that this would be the attitude of Sergio Vieira de Mello: not to abandon the U.N. mandate, to guarantee the protection of the civilian population, to reconstruct the nation and international legality,» he said. De Mello, the special U.N. envoy to Iraq, was among the 23 people killed in Tuesday’s attack.

Of the terrorists the archbishop said: «I don’t understand their mentality. … It is certainly an attack on the international community, represented by one of its best interpreters.»

The archbishop, who was previously the Vatican’s permanent observer in Geneva, appealed to «those who are responsible for security in Iraq» not to forget «the other U.N. employees.»

«De Mello stressed on several occasions what the responsibilities belong to those who have control of the territory in Iraq: to ensure protection, not only of the civilian population, but also of international civil servants,» he said.

In regard to U.S.-U.N. relations in Iraq following the attack, Archbishop Martin said: «De Mello was a man of dialogue, the United States’ favorite candidate to carry out this role in Iraq, but he was in nobody’s pocket.»

The prelate added: «He was a very independent man and he could carry out an important role to ensure the country’s move to legality and normality. Now it is up to the Secretary-General Kofi Annan to find both a new representative for Iraq as well as a new High Commissioner for Human Rights, positions that de Mello held, although during a certain period he was totally dedicated to the problems of Iraq.»

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