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On 22 February, the UN Secretary-General released his latest report on the situation in Iraq and the oil-for-food programme. It can be found at http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/reports/90day5.htm Additionally, the comments of Benon V. Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, are informative, and can be found through http://www.un.org/Depts/oip. These reports cover the 90 day period up to 31 January 1999. As these documents are a rather tedious and long read, but essential to analyse the mis/information coming out of the UK & US governments (and their mass media) which increasingly quote highly selective portions of them, I'm including my summary below. I'm only commenting on south & central Iraq, under central government control, where the humanitarian problems have mostly been: Both the S-G and Sevan identify the main problem as the lack of revenue coming into Iraq, due to the decline in oil prices. The S-G writes: "Indeed, the most serious issue facing the implementation of the programme at present is the growing shortfall in revenues required to implement the approved distribution plan. It may be recalled that despite the increase in the volume of exports of oil, the financial target of the $3.1 billion required for the implementation of the enhanced distribution plan could not be met. In fact, even with the October 1998 revision downwards of the funds allocated to various sectors, amounting to some $2.2 billion, there was a shortfall of over $264 million. Owing to insufficient phase IV revenues, approved applications worth approximately $500 million could not be funded. Accordingly, the Office of the Iraq Programme agreed to the Government¹s request to transfer selected phase IV applications to phase V." (para 102; also see para 9). That is, the Iraqi government did not raise enough money to pay for the supplies it planned for under the Fourth Distribution Plan (the six months up to 24 November), by a lack of $500million. Benon Sevan adds: "The increasing shortfall in revenues required for the implementation of the programme has become the greatest challenge which we have been facing since the start of the previous phase. For the current phase ending on 25 May, gross oil revenues are anticipated to reach $2.9 billion, leaving only about $1.8 billion for humanitarian supplies and oil spare parts and equipment for the Iraqi oil industry, in contrast to the $2.7 billion required for the implementation of the humanitarian programme." That is, only 62% of the funds needed for the humanitarian programme were raised through oil sales. Sevan continues: "Iraqi crude oil prices, however, are not expected to recover significantly over the coming months from their current levels of between $8 and $9 per barrel. We are therefore far from a position where we could reach the target of the revenues authorized at $5.2 billion by resolution 1153 (1998). Accordingly, any suggestion to raise further the ceiling of revenues is simply an academic exercise, unless bold, imaginative and pragmatic alternatives for investment in Iraq¹s oil industry are considered by the Council. There is no way, and can be no way for Iraq, to increase its capacity to export additional oil to finance both the humanitarian programme and to meet the demands for necessary spare parts and equipment." This is an implicit snub at the UK / US idea that the ceiling for oil sales should be removed; as Sevan states, there is no way Iraq can pump more oil than it does at the moment. Even with the oil spare parts now coming into Iraq, the effects will be limited. The S-G, after welcoming the increased rate of approval given to applications for parts by the sanctions committee, writes: "Nevertheless, I should like to point out to the Council that even with an expeditious approval of all applications, it is unlikely, in the view of Saybolt oil experts, that the approved spare parts and equipment requiring a long delivery period will have a significant impact on the export capacity of the Iraqi oil industry much before March 2000." (para 101) No improvement before March2000. As far as other problems go, the problem of distribution is a persistent theme running through the reports. These points must be taken seriously, as this is where UK & US government will place emphasis. The most serious case is that of medicines. The S-G writes of: "the slow pace of distribution from Kimadia central warehouses to the governorate warehouses, and further to health centres. As of 31 January 1999, approximately $275 million worth of medicines and medical supplies had accumulated in warehouses, which is more than half of all supplies that arrived in the country for all phases. The quantity of medical equipment in warehouses is alarmingly high. According to information provided by United Nations observers, only 15 per cent of all medical equipment received by the warehouses has been distributed. Follow-up visits to sites receiving the equipment found that only 2 to 3 per cent had actually been installed. As a consequence, stocks in warehouses have exceeded their capacity." (para.30) But there are complex reasons for this. The S-G identifies in particular: "the lack of modern managerial tools, poor working conditions within the warehouses and the lack of transport for moving the supplies to health centres... [additionally] the rigid hierarchy in the Ministry of Health administration ... makes it difficult for functionaries to approve deliveries without approval of superiors, and this takes time. A variety of sources, including WHO, suggest that stockpiling seems to have increased following September 1998, when tensions mounted, and superiors may have deliberately withheld supplies in anticipation of emergency needs." (para.31) The other sector for which distribution problems are a major impediment is the water & sanitation sector. Here, the problem of lack of loading equipment is stressed: "only 35 to 40 per cent of the supplies received in the country for the water and sanitation sector have been brought to sewage stations or water sites. The anticipation of emergency needs by stockpiling, in this sector as in other sectors, appears to be a persistent problem, and this is one of the factors contributing to the slow pace of delivery. UNICEF and the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq have repeatedly referred to the non-availability of cash funds as another explanation for the delays in distributing and installing supplies. The General Establishment for Water and Sewage (GEWS) central warehouse is capable of unloading only one truck per day, and United Nations observers report that, with the recently increased number of in-country arrivals, trucks are lined up waiting to unload their freight. The recent increase in arrivals has increased the pressure on storage facilities and reduced handling efficiency, and this has contributed to delays in conveying supplies to treatment sites." (para.38) As a remedy, both the S-G and Sevan stress the need for coordination between Iraq and the Security Council in improving transport & other facilities. The S-G writes: "It is also important for the Security Council Committee to acknowledge that a humanitarian programme of such magnitude requires a commensurate level of transport, communications and material-handling equipment and to be ready to act favourably on requests for essential logistic support." (para.106) Sevan adds: "few of these essential prerequisites [for transport & logistics] have been made available in an efficient and timely manner and as resolution 986 (1995) concentrates overwhelmingly on the provision of imported commodities, it has not been able to guarantee the optimum utilisation of goods supplied under the programme. I welcome the 661 Committee¹s recognition that major engineering projects in the oil and electricity sectors require the funding of service arrangements. This is a realistic response to a very grave situation and the unavailability, locally, of all necessary technical expertise and resources. However, many smaller projects and activities seeking to utilise supplies delivered under the programme also require similar assistance. A greater measure of flexibility by all concerned would be welcome and the Panel on Humanitarian Issues may wish to review the issues involved." As that last sentence makes clear, blame cannot be placed on one party alone. However, Iraqi distribution services also receive complements from the S-G, for their actions when the bombs fall: "Distributions continued regularly during the air strikes in mid-December with only minor delays reported from two Baghdad warehouses. The destruction of the storehouse in Tikrit, which contained 2,600 tons of rice, did not affect December 1998 distributions to Salah Al Din governorate, as immediate measures were taken by the Government to transfer rice directly from points of entry to local food agents. In fact, WFP observers noticed a slight improvement in the efficiency of food distributions during the months of November and December 1998." (para.26) Two other multi-sector problem are identified. Firstly, the sanctions committee is still blocking essential goods. For example, the cattle vaccine for foot and mouth disease is being blocked: "A recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease, reported by the Department of Animal Health and confirmed by FAO observation, has affected approximately 1 million cattle and sheep and is causing high mortality among offspring from infected mothers. Unchecked, the epidemic has the capacity to substantially reduce animal productivity. Only two batches of vaccines, ordered under phases I and IV have been made available, amounting to approximately 500,000 doses. This is not enough to contain the outbreak, and FAO¹s estimate of the cost for procuring sufficient vaccines and facilities is in excess of 15 million." (para.44) Similarly, the sanctions committee has put on hold 25 diesel generators for the electricity sector, which are essential for rural wellbeing (para.51). Sevan sums this problem up: "We welcome the increasingly flexible approach taken by members of the 661 Committee in reducing substantially the holds placed on oil spare parts and equipment. However, just as we welcome the decrease in numbers of holds, we face additional holds placed on new applications. We hope that after further reviews those holds will also be lifted." From Sevan's annex, we see that the number of holds in the non-oil sector has decreased only from 33 (20Nov98) to 27 (24Feb99). Each 'hold' placed is often of a large order amounting to many millions of dollars worth of supplies. The second problem is poor Iraqi ordering in certain sectors. The S-G's criticisms here seem more muted than in previous reports. Some problems are attributed to inefficiency (for medicines, slow contracting is blamed on computer problems and lack of computer expertise: para.29). However, targetted nutrition programmes still warrant special attention: "In order to implement a targeted nutrition programme, the enhanced distribution plan provides for $8 million worth of high protein biscuits for pregnant and lactating women, as well as for 1,500 tons of therapeutic milk, valued at about $8.7 million, for malnourished children under five years of age. As at 31 January, the Ministry of Health, after considerable delay, and numerous reminders from the Office of the Iraq Programme, had signed contracts for only $1,692,100 worth of high protein biscuits. These contracts have not yet been submitted to the Secretariat. As at 31 January 1999, contracts for only 260 tons of therapeutic milk, valued at about $1.5 million, had been submitted." (para.34) Briefly, on specific sectors: Food. The Iraqi government aimed to provide a 2,200 kcal foodbasket to each person every day. However, insufficient stocks meant that the foodbasket varied between 1,955 & 2,002 kcal per person per day (para.25) Medicine. There are still great shortages. The S-G writes: "Drugs continue to be rationed for outpatients and health centres, however, and while the drugs delivered to health facilities may last longer, WHO reports that the quantities delivered to health centres are still only one third of the overall quantity required to meet real needs. Antibacterial drugs rarely last more than half of the time between deliveries to health centres." (para.28). Repeat, only 1/3rd of the necessary medicines are received. Malnutrition is still a sever problem. The S-G writes: "General malnutrition among children under five in the centre/south was found to occur in 23.4 per cent of children in 1996, in 24.7 per cent of children in 1997 and in 22.8 per cent of children in the most recent survey of March 1998. While there has been no significant reduction in general malnutrition among infants or among children under five, previously rising prevalence rates have stabilized, albeit at an unacceptably high level." (para.33) That is, 'stabilisation' at almost a quarter of the infant population of a country. Water supplies are still poor, and "has not improved to any extent" (para.39). "United Nations observers report large amounts of raw sewage being discharged into rivers as filters and pipes are clogged. The treatment plants visited by United Nations observers and UNICEF are reported to function well below internationally accepted standards, and because of the lack of sufficient supplies, they are expected to deteriorate further." (para.40) Agriculture is declining in certain sectors. As the FAO estimated, there is a 30% drop in crop production (para.43). Electricity. Both the S-G and Sevan highlight the problem of electricity. Power cuts have increased nationally, often by considerable amounts; in Baghdad, for example, there is no electricity for 10 hours a day (para.48). This has considerably affecting humanitarian supplies, eg preventing effective cold storage for vaccines (para.50). Education. There is a general lack of information here. However, one pertinent estimate is reported by the S-G: "United Nations observers surveyed 54 schools, equally distributed throughout nine governorates, and reported that 83 per cent of the schools visited required rehabilitation. ....The United Nations observer survey reported that 30 per cent of the schools visited required plumbing repairs, 53 per cent did not have enough desks and 80 per cent of them had no staff furniture. The one common feature of the two surveys is the indication of the urgent requirement for desks." (para.55) Finally, one point to note. Out of the money earned through the oil-for-food programme, $2.95 billion has gone to the UN Compensation Fund (compared with $4.94 billion for humanitarian supplies: figures in S-G's annex I). The operating expenses of the compensation commission itself has taken up $125 million (ie lawyers fees, court rooms &c). If this money had been used for the Iraqi people, rather than for Western companies who lost money in Kuwait & their lawyers, there could have been 59% more humanitarian goods getting to the people. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html