Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert takes over as UNAMI chief from Jan Kubis

'Make the wellbeing of the Iraqis a top priority'
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert served as the Netherlands' defence minister from 2012 until 2017 (AFP Photo/NICHOLAS KAMM)

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SULAIMANI — The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) announced Monday (December 17) that Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert has taken over as the Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General from her predecessor Jan Kubis.

“I am delighted to be here in Baghdad and ready to get down to work. We will continue our efforts in support of Iraq as the country recovers from the fight against terrorism and looks towards a brighter future,” Hennis-Plasschaert said in a UNAMI statement.

A former Dutch Defense Minister, Hennis-Plasschaert has also served as a member of the European Parliament and the House of Representatives of the Netherlands. UN Secretary-General Antonio Gueterres announced her appointment on August 31.

She takes over from Kubis, who served in the role for nearly four years.

On December 12, Kubis released a farewell message in which he reflected on the achieves made by Iraq and the Kurdistan Region during his tenure, in particular the defeat of Islamic State.

In that message, he cautioned Iraqi leaders not to lose momentum and to work to improve public services.

“I count on the support of the experienced staff in UNAMI and the UN family in Iraq, and the continued excellent cooperation of the host country so that together we can deliver on our programs in the service of Iraq and the Iraqis,” Hennis-Plasschaert added.

“It is my intention to make the wellbeing of the Iraqis a top priority, and work towards that goal in the security, humanitarian, political, economic and development fields.”

She takes over as the largest political parties have seemingly reached an impasse over whether to approve of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s final eight cabinet nominees.

Beyond political difficulties, the UN mission faces persistent structural problems, such as poverty, degraded public services, endemic corruption, security problems, and ongoing tensions between Baghdad and Erbil.

(NRT Digital Media)