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Benon Sevan on Committee 661

U.N.: More Must Be Done to Improve Health,
Well-Being of Iraqis 

UNITED NATIONS (Nov. 17) XINHUA - Benon Sevan,
executive director of the U.N. Office of Iraq Program,
said Wednesday that much more must be accomplished if
the oil-for-food program to realize its potential to
improve the health and well-being of the Iraqi people.

Briefing the United Nations Security Council on the
implementation of the U.N. humanitarian program in
Iraq, Sevan said the program began to be implemented
three years ago and the humanitarian situation in Iraq
has improved considerably in those three years. 

Responsibility for implementing the program
effectively is shared between the Security Council and
its sanctions committee, the government of Iraq, the
U.N. Secretariat and agencies, funds and programs of
the United Nations systems as well as the suppliers
and their respective governments, Sevan said. 

"There have been a welcome improvement in the arrival
of contracts for targeted nutrition supplies, and for
food basket items such as pulses and full cream milk
that were previously in short supply. However, we are
concerned that we have seen relatively few
applications in Phase VI for health, oil spares, water
and sanitation, education and infrastructure," he

As on November 15, the total value of applications
placed on hold amounted to 1.042 billion U.S. dollars
compared with approved applications worth 8.770
billion dollars, since the start of the program, the
U.N. official said. 

To date, there are around 73 million dollars worth of
contracts on hold from phases IV to VI in the
agriculture sector, and the Food and Agricultural
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates
that some of these holds have resulted in significant
reductions in the use of land for grain crops and the
loss of as much as 20,000 tons of wheat production, he

In the electricity sector to date, of the 746.8
million of applications submitted to the sanctions
committee under phases IV, V and VI, 377.7 million or
51 percent remain on hold, Sevan said. 

According to the United Nations Development Program,
if all contracts on hold were to be released, the
government of Iraq would, in theory, be able to add
1,900 megawatts of the new or rehabilitated power
generation capacity and prevent the loss of
approximately 800 megawatts from national grid, Sevan

With approximately 28 million dollars worth of
maintenance equipment on hold, the Iraqi authorities
will not be able to slow down system deterioration
and, unless other resources are identified, this will
contribute to an increased number of forced outages,
increased failures in power plants, thus shortening
the lifetime of existing generating units and their
auxiliaries, Sevan said. 

Sevan said the Office of the Iraq Program remains
fully committed to assisting the sanctions committee
and all others concerned in expediting a review of the

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