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IMF, World Bank Pull Staff Out of Iraq - 2003-08-21

The Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund have moved their personnel out of Baghdad following Tuesday's bombing at the United Nations headquarters there. Both institutions say their commitment to the reconstruction effort in Iraq is undiminished by the tragedy.

Both the Fund and the Bank are temporarily shifting their operations to neighboring Jordan. All six IMF staff members in Baghdad were injured in the blast, which killed at least 24 people and sent nearly 90 to hospital. A World Bank consultant, an Iraqi, died in the blast. The World Bank had 15 staff members in Baghdad, several of whom were injured.

"Quite clearly, as I indicated, our staff are unable to continue in Baghdad," said Tom Dawson, the IMF spokesman, addressing reporters in Washington Thursday.

Mr. Dawson makes clear that the Monetary Fund's work in rebuilding Iraq will continue. "We do continue to be engaged in working on Iraq, on the issues I've identified here previously that fit in one sense of the word, under helping to restore and rebuild institutions, the central bank and finance ministry functions and so on," he said. "This work in the short run does not have to be done from Baghdad."

The World Bank has been active in Baghdad since May. It has been playing a critical role in assessing the aid needs in Iraq. The U.S. Treasury says a donor's conference on Iraq, tentatively set for late October in Spain, will take place on schedule.