UN offers to help Iraqi refugees return to Ramadi

AFP , Wednesday 30 Dec 2015

Iraqi security forces gather near a temporary bridge built by the corps of engineers in the Iraqi army south of Ramadi, during a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi after government forces recaptured the city from ISIS, December 29, 2015 (Photo: AFP)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered Wednesday to help Iraq restore basic services to Ramadi and allow refugees to quickly return to the city after it was recaptured from militants.

Ban made the offer during a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who visited Ramadi after his forces drove out ISIS.

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 UN support, said a statement from his spokesman.

Iraqi officials on Wednesday 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.

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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