October 24, 2003

A global fund to help rebuild Iraq's universities has been launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Mir Asghar Husain, Unesco's director of education policy and strategy, said there was a need for furniture, telephone networks and laboratory equipment to enable Iraq's 20 universities to operate a skeleton service.

A request for money will be sent to the international Iraq donor conference in Madrid, while a Unesco technical team will meet later this month with Iraq university representatives to draw up a detailed aid and investment assessment.

Despite being part of Iraq's occupation Coalition Provisional Authority, the UK's Department for International Development said it had no plans to support the fund but had donated more than £150,000 to help rebuild Basra Southern University's Bab Al-Zubayr complex.

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