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Von Sponeck: "Iraq at the bottom of least developed countries"

UN aide says sanctions make Iraq a poor country  
BAGHDAD, Jan. 19 - Iraq, despite its huge oil wealth, has become one of the
least developed countries in the world, a senior U.N. official said on
       ''Iraq, with a $252 per person a year income, would be at the bottom
of least developed countries,'' the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Iraq,
Hans von Sponeck, said.  
''The Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) considers a country that
has a (per capita) income less than $450 a year as a least developed
country,'' von Sponeck told a group of Spanish MPs visiting Iraq to show
their solidarity with the Iraqi people against crippling U.N. sanctions. 
       Von Sponeck is responsible for an oil-for-food programme designed by
the United Nations to alleviate the suffering of Iraqi people from the
sanctions imposed to punish Iraq for its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 
       The deal allows Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil over six
months to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs for the Iraqi
       Von Sponeck, a German, has in the past drawn criticism from the
United States and Britain for advocating an end to the nine- year-old U.N.
       In October last year von Sponeck urged the U.N. Security Council
members to seperate relief issues for ordinary Iraqis from the more
controversial political issues of disarmament. 
       U.N. inspectors have been banned from Iraq since December 1998 when
Washington and London launched a four-day air and missile onslaught for
Baghdad's failure to cooperate with the monitors. 
       Baghdad has dismissed a new U.N. resolution which could return
weapons inspectors to the country and ease sanctions. 
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.  


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