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Iraqi Technocrats Seek International Aid - 2003-06-24

A group of former Iraqi technocrats is urging the international community to contribute to rebuilding Iraq. The group is attending a conference on Iraq at the United Nations.

Before the war, the 12 Iraqis in the delegation served in various sectors of Saddam Hussein's government. Now, they say the are working directly with the U.S.-led coalition and are using their technical expertise to help their country rebuild.

Akila Al Hashimi used to work for Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As spokesperson for the group, she says she is bringing a message to potential international donors during a conference Tuesday sponsored by the United Nations Development Program.

"We came to New York to be present at this donor conference and at the beginning to tell everybody, the international community, that Iraq is back," she says. And [we are here to say] that Iraq is willing to participate in every United Nations and international activity and then to really ask donor countries and donor organizations to help Iraq in this period of transition."

A news conference at the United Nations with four of the Iraqi delegates revealed some of the details of how the coalition is trying to run Iraq in the immediate post-war period before a new Iraqi government is formed.

The Iraqi delegates say they communicated with the coalition while in their previous position.

Faris Abdulrazziq Alasam, the Acting Deputy-Mayor of Baghdad, first contacted the coalition during the war when he was the director general of planning, water and sewage supervision in Bagdad. His task was to keep the water supply flowing during the war.

He says the technocrats' wide-range of experience is useful for the coalition. "Knowing our sectors makes us aware of the ins-and-outs. We can identify priorities, we can make excellent assessments for the present situation, things that should be done in the short-term, the mid-term, the long term, how to provide funds for them," he says. "I think this is one of the reasons why we are here."

At the same time that the Iraqis are asking for funds to rebuild Iraq, the United Nations is appealing for $225 million for Iraq's humanitarian needs.