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Annan says level of violence in Iraq is 'much worse' than recent civil wars

Updated:
LONDON (AP) The level of violence in Iraq is ``much worse'' than recent civil wars, outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in an interview to be aired Monday.

Speaking to the British Broadcasting Corp., Annan agreed that the average Iraqi's life is worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein's regime. He called the situation in the country ``extremely dangerous.''

``Given the level of violence, the level of killing and bitterness and the way that forces are arranged against each other, a few years ago when we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war. This is much worse,'' Annan said, according to a transcript of the interview released by the BBC Sunday night.

Last week, when asked by reporters whether the fighting in Iraq could be considered a civil war, Annan said ``almost.''

``I think given the developments on the ground, unless something is done drastically and urgently to arrest the deteriorating situation, we could be there. In fact we are almost there,'' he said at the time.

In the BBC interview, Annan agreed when it was suggested that some Iraqis believe life is worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein's regime.

``I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi's life,'' Annan said. ``If I were an average Iraqi, obviously I would make the same comparison, that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, 'Am I going to see my child again?'''

``And the Iraqi government has not been able to bring the violence under control. The society needs security and a secure environment for it to get on, without security not much can be done, not recovery or reconstruction.''

He urged the international community to help rebuild the country, saying he was not sure Iraq could do it on its own.

Annan's term as secretary-general ends December 31st.
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