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Re: The Years 1991-1995, the Refusal of Arab Aid, and Delays Ordering Protein Biscuits Pt II

Dear Drew and All,

On the second and third points, it is perfectly true that the Iraqi
government formally stopped accepting humanitarian aid last June, and that
it has not ordered the quantities of high protein biscuits for pregnant and
lactating mothers permitted by the UN.

2) AID

There are some interesting details about the ban on humanitarian aid that I
think deserve to be understood. They are not offered as justifications for
Baghdad's policy, but as important pieces of context.

On a visit to Iraq last August, not long after the ban on humanitarian aid
was instituted, I was surprised to find that virtually every NGO working in
government-controlled Iraq was still operating, and in some cases expanding
their operations (Mennonite Central Committee, Middle East Council of
Churches, etc.).

At the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, I was presented
with a bundle of documents on oil-for-food. One of the 986 Updates was
entitled 'Special flights carrying humanitarian supplies (and approved by
the 661 [Sanctions] Committee' (u-humfly.Rev11, 7 June 1998). This listed 21
special flights between 31 Jan and 5 June 1998, one of which was from the
USA (34.8 tons of medicines and nutrition supplements, 28 April, two

It was suggested while I was in Iraq that Baghdad had been worried by the
appearance generated by the flights (and the high media profile they
attracted), that the humanitarian situation was being solved, when in fact
these consignments were a mere drop in the ocean. The favourable publicity
given to the US airlift may have been particularly worrying from this point
of view.

While most flights carried several tons of supplies, some did not. A flight
from Russia on 8 May 1998 carried 20 kilograms of medicines, according to
the UN Update. (This is substantially less than was taken in the February
1998 Voices delegation that I took part in.) The last flight listed took
place on 5 June 1998 and carried a delegation of 113, a crew of 14, and NO
CARGO. The ban on humanitarian donations from foreign countries was imposed
the following day.

Last August, I was under the impression that the humanitarian aid ban was in
effect mainly against the big humanitarian flights. This may have been a
misperception, and/or there may have been a change in policy since then.


The 18 May 1999 Secretary-General's report notes (para. 37) that as at 31
March 1999 the Iraqi Ministry of Health had signed 'four contracts for
therapeutic milk and three contracts for high protein biscuits.' 'The first
contract valued at $1,692,100 for the procurement of high protein biscuits
was received by the Security Council Committee on 3 March 1999 and approved
on 9 March, but the supply has not yet arrived in the country.' Phase IV and
Phase V (just ended) both allocated $8 million for high protein biscuits,
giving a theoretical total of $16m which could have been ordered by now,
rather than just $1.7m.

(The $16m figure may have been affected by oil revenue shortfalls which have
seen allocations being transferred from Phase IV to Phase V, though the
Secretary-General's report gives no indication of this effect.)

So far as I know, no explanation has yet been offered for the Iraqi
government's delay in ordering this crucial targeted nutritional supplement.

Milan Rai

-----Original Message-----
From: Hamre, Drew <>
To: 'Iraq-CASI - Discussion' <>
Date: 21 May 1999 16:12
Subject: The Years 1991-1995, the Refusal of Arab Aid, and Delays Ordering
Protein Biscuits

>> Does anyone have information which rebuts the following arguments for
>> Saddam's complicity in the humanitarian disaster:
>> (1) Saddam refused oil-for-food for five years
>> (2) Saddam has recently refused Arab aid
>> (3) Iraqi administrators have consistently delayed ordering protein
>> biscuits permitted under oil-for-food
>> Believe the issue with (1) had to do with Iraqi sovereignty and the
>> relatively small amounts being tendered.  (A collection of communications
>> between the UN and Iraq for the period 1990-1996 is available as a UN
>> 'Blue Book'; perhaps this would be helpful?)
>> Apparently, (2) stems chiefly from a Barbara Crossette article in the
>> NYTimes, which contained the assertion but few details.
>> In the overall scheme of things, (3) is a relatively minor issue.
>> However, it remains a sore point among OIP administrators and receives
>> coverage as a result.
>> Any information would be sincerely appreciated.
>> Regards,
>> Drew Hamre
>Minneapolis, MN USA
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