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FW: Resignation of World Food Program Official in Iraq

This just in from the US State Department: An interview with James Rubin.

State Department Briefing
Tuesday, February 15, 2000
Briefer: James P. Rubin

Resignation of World Food Program Official in Iraq

QUESTION: Now, the head of the WFP, World Food Program in Baghdad, has quit.
It seems like it's going to be, "Will the last UN official to leave Iraq
turn out the lights?" I'm just wondering if you have anything to say about
her resignation and the reasons for it, which are similar to the reasons
given by Mr. Von Sponeck.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I haven't seen exactly what she said. I'm aware of another
resignation and I can assure you that these are not the last UN officials in
Iraq. There are plenty of people working every day to try to help the people
of Iraq. Because the leaders have made these decisions doesn't mean that the
work won't continue. There are many other people there. I could get you the
numbers, but there are many other people there.

With respect to the reasons given, there is a suggestion that somehow this
is personal. This is not personal. It is our view that the roles of the
humanitarian coordinator and the humanitarian officials there are not the
role of self-appointed spokesmen for the Security Council and the world as
to the wisdom of sanctions. This is not a personal issue; this is a
professional issue involved in people's professional duties.

If people believe that they can't in good conscience continue their work, I
think all of us respect that. There are obviously different views on the
wisdom of sanctions in the world. But when the Security Council has made a
decision to impose sanctions and all the members of the Council have
endorsed time and time again those sanctions, it's not up to a humanitarian
official -- who is there to implement a program that the United States and
the others started intended to generate revenue because Saddam Hussein won't
use his own revenue to pay for humanitarian goods and services for the
people of Iraq.

So when these well-intentioned individuals are concerned about the fate of
the Iraqi people, it is our view that they should direct their concern and
their blame-casting at the Iraqi regime, which refuses day after day, time
after time, to spend its hard currency helping its own people, so the United
Nations and the United States have to come up with a different way to create
revenue for the food and medicine and other supplies that are being made
available. If it were not for the US and the UN efforts in this regard,
billions of dollars of food and medicine would not have gone to the people
of Iraq.

So there is no question that we share concern about the people of Iraq. The
only people that don't seem to share any concern about the people of Iraq
are the members of the regime who would prefer to spend money on elaborate
palaces, elaborate cars, elaborate houses, amusement parks, man-made lakes
and many other luxury goods, rather than spend any of this hard currency
helping their own people.

QUESTION: An aside, and a kind of corollary to that is, you don't see the
two resignations as disrupting or affecting the programs?

MR. RUBIN: The program has existed before. You know, this is not the first
time individuals have decided that they would prefer not to hold these
posts. The program will continue because it is a program that we are behind,
the United Nations is behind. To the extent the Iraqis allow the oil to be
sold for this purpose, it will be spent for the purposes specified by the
resolution and we don't see this needing to interfere in any significant way
with the operations of the program.

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