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UK acts to boost oil-for-food relief to Iraq Patrick Wintour, Political Editor of The Observer, Sunday March 28, 1999 Britain has launched an initiative to boost the UN's oil-for-food programme in Iraq in the face of mounting evidence of a humanitarian crisis. Ministers are also responding to growing criticism that continuing air strikes in Iraq amounts to an undeclared war in which the only losers are the Iraqi people. In a confidential paper sent to the UN with the authority of the Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett, the Government admits 'the needs of the Iraqi people are not being met by the oil-for-food programme'. It blames the fall in world oil prices and Iraq's failing oil infrastructure. It suggests bringing the large illegal oil exports programme to Turkey within the programme. It also proposes reducing, for a fixed time, the amount of revenue from the programme siphoned to the Compensation Commission, the UN body charged with distributing Iraqi revenues to governments and individuals who suffered during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Britain is also proposing an Iraq Task Force, under UN auspices, with specialists who will advise the programme on how to improve oil, electricity and agricultural output. It also wants improved nutrition advice given and possibly the greater use of UN personnel to help with the distribution of food and medicines. The Government is especially pressing this proposal in northern Iraq where the paper concedes that some foods are taking a year to reach. Britain is also proposing stimulating the Iraqi agricultural sector by allowing money generated from oil to be spent on local produce, rather than imported food. Sanctions have been applied against Iraq since 1991 over the Iraqi government's continued failure to hand over all its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is allowed to export some oil in return for food and medicines. Ministers insist they are not acting in response to criticism of the continuing US-UK bombing campaign in Iraq, but the initiative may also do something to lessen the impression that the US and UK have become committed to a policy of air strikes against dictators, regardless of the consequences for the civilian population. More than 100 US and UK attacks have been mounted all inside the northern or southern no-fly zones of Iraq. Colin Rowat Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/casi King's College Cambridge CB2 1ST tel: +44 (0)468 056 984 England fax: +44 (0)1223 335 219 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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