LONDON – The level of violence in Iraq is "much worse" than that of Lebanon's civil war, outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in an interview aired Monday.
"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.
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 last week.
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 Dec. 31.