UN-HABITAT and the Iraqi ministries of Municipality and Public Works, and Construction and Housing on Tuesday started a two-day round-table meeting in Amman, Jordan, on a new slum upgrading strategy for Iraq.
The meeting, to be attended by more than 60 participants including high-ranking officials, international experts and representatives from many UN agencies, aims to draw up a strategy paper for policy reforms in housing and urban development that will contribute to improving the livelihoods of up to 1 million people, about 25 per cent of Iraq's urban poor.
As UN-HABITAT aims to improve the living conditions of the poorest sectors of Iraqi society, the senior United Nations envoy for Iraq is continuing his almost daily consultations with the top echelons of the political elite to ensure full participation in writing a new constitution.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, Mr. Ashraf Qazi, who last week held talks with Shiite Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders to seek full inclusiveness in the next stages of the country's political transition, joined a meeting hosted by the Centre of Development and International Dialogue on the UN role in the constitution making process.
Mr. Qazi's talks with new Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the Prime Minister designate, Mr. Ibrahim Ja'fari, and Mr. Harith Al-Dhari, Secretary-General of the Association of Muslim Scholars, were the latest in an almost daily series of talks he has held since elections in January, when Sunni Arabs largely absented themselves, thus securing little representation in the Transitional National Assembly that is to draft the new constitution.
Mr. Annan, Mr. Qazi and other UN officials have stressed the importance of full participation by all sectors in the process. Shiite Arabs, who voted enthusiastically, represent about 60 per cent of the population, while mainly Sunni Kurds, who also turned out en masse, and Sunni Arabs, the dominant political force in the regime of ousted Saddam Hussein, represent about 20 per cent each.