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BALAD, Iraq — The U.S. military has set aside land on its bases in Iraq for nongovernmental organizations, which will help rebuild essential services such as sewage, water, power, health, and education in the war-torn nation.

A U.N. Association representative in Iraq, Hali Jilani, said Saturday that the U.S. military would provide land for the groups at three bases — Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Baghdad International Airport and the Iraqi Oil Ministry in Baghdad.

It is hoped the security provided by the bases will encourage some organizations that fled Iraq last August following the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad to return, she said.

“People felt unsafe and insecure but that is when the local population needs the most help,” Jilani said.

LSA Anaconda commander Col. Charles Yriarte, who heads the 82nd Airborne Division’s rear operations center, said an NGO village will be created at Anaconda despite a shortage of land on the base.

“We will also provide water and septic tank pumping and possibly some electrical generators,” he said.

The village will cater to up to 100 people, although it is likely to start with 25 to 50 people, Yriarte said.

“I think it is a great idea. We are working on a lot of military civil affairs projects up here. NGOs will bring help and expertise in areas such as improving Iraqis’ quality of life and providing them with water, sewage, and power,” he said.

Jilani has been working to secure land for the NGOs since Iraq was liberated last year. U.S. military installations are the ideal bases for them, she said.

“It is not only safer but I feel that the reconstruction must be a joint effort [between NGOs and the military] if we are going to be effective.

“Military civil affairs have done a great job all over the country,” she said. “I want to have a merger of NGOs and military civil affairs.”

Some workers are afraid to work in the Sunni Triangle, the most dangerous area in Iraq. It encompasses the three cities of Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit, she added.

“That is the area everybody is afraid of but that is where we are going to need to do a lot of the work,” she said.

Larger organizations can afford to provide their own security, Jilani said. The villages on U.S. bases will cater to small, specialized groups, especially those started by Iraqis living in Europe or the States, she said.

“If military civil affairs are working on water purification in a particular village, I hope to give them an NGO specialized in that area to work with them and eventually take over the project,” she said.

Lt. Col. Nichollas Zoeller, with the 13th Corps Support Command, said his soldiers are involved in farm projects, water projects, rebuilding schools, and distributing school supplies in the Balad area.

“I have 13 soldiers doing this up here so we are stretched pretty thin. If the NGOs can be self-sufficient we’d be happy to go home and let them finish the reconstruction of Iraq,” Zoeller said.

However, few civilian workers have ventured to Balad because of the perceived danger, he said.

“We like the idea [of a NGO village] because NGOs are our ticket out of here. If we get enough NGOs up here we can all go home because they can rebuild the country.”

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