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In light of Mr. Tun Myat's (UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq) 19 October 2000 briefing (see <http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2000/20001019.myatbriefing.doc.html> and Christopher S. Wren, "Iraq Poverty Said to Undermine Food Program," The New York Times, 20 October 2000 (see below)), please note the 1999 Humanitarian Panel's conclusion that improving the "oil-for-food" program is insufficient: http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/panelrep.htm 1999 Humanitarian Panel Official Title: "REPORT OF THE SECOND PANEL ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO THE NOTE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL OF 30 JANUARY 1999 (S/1999/100), CONCERNING THE CURRENT HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN IRAQ" Annex II of S/1999/356 30 March 1999 42. It was acknowledged that factors independent from the effectiveness of the humanitarian efforts to assist the Iraqi population could help to improve the situation, such as a sustained rise in international oil price levels. However, in order for Iraq to aspire to social and economic indicators comparable to the ones reached at the beginning of the decade humanitarian efforts of the kind envisaged under the "oil for food" system alone would not suffice and massive investment would be required in a number of key sectors, including oil, energy, agriculture and sanitation. Finally, it was pointed out that if and when sanctions are lifted, it will take a long time before the. infrastructure is repaired and the economy recovers. 46. Due to a substantial shortfall in revenue for the implementation of approved distribution plans, the "oil for food" humanitarian programme established by the Security Council has not been able to achieve fully its objectives. But even if all humanitarian supplies were provided in a timely manner, the humanitarian programme implemented pursuant to resolution 986 (1995) can admittedly only meet but a small fraction of the priority needs of the Iraqi people. Regardless of the improvements that might be brought about in the implementation of the current humanitarian programme - in terms of approval procedures, better performance by the Iraqi Government, or funding levels - the magnitude of the humanitarian needs is such that they cannot be met within the context of the parameters set forth in resolution 986 (1995) and succeeding resolutions, in particular resolution 1153 (1998). Nor was the programme intended to meet all the needs of the Iraqi people. 58. In presenting the above recommendations to the Security Council, the panel reiterates its understanding that the humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot be achieved solely through remedial humanitarian efforts. ***************************************************************** Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company The New York Times View Related Topics October 20, 2000, Friday, Late Edition - Final SECTION: Section A; Page 16; Column 4; Foreign Desk LENGTH: 662 words HEADLINE: Iraq Poverty Said to Undermine Food Program BYLINE: By CHRISTOPHER S. WREN DATELINE: UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 19 BODY: The administrator of the United Nations "oil for food" program in Iraq said today that although that distribution system ranked among the world's best, the lot of ordinary Iraqis has failed to improve because their living conditions remain mired in chronic deprivation. "People have become so poor in some cases that they can't even afford to eat the food that they are given free, because for many of them the food ration represents the major part of their income," the administrator, Tun Myat, said. With the average income of a junior public employee eroded to barely $2 or $3 a month, he said, "to sustain their livelihood, they sell part of what they get" in food and medicine to pay for clothing and other necessities. Despite an individual ration of 2,470 calories a day, Mr. Myat added, "the upturn in nutrition that we would want to be seeing is not happening." Mr. Myat, a Burmese-born lawyer who previously worked for the World Food Program, came here from Baghdad to brief the Security Council sanctions committee and encourage it to release $2.25 billion in contracts for civilian goods that the Iraqi government has requested. The United States and its allies have blocked the sale, contending that the goods could be used for other than relief purposes. Mr. Myat said, for example, that more than 34 percent of applications to buy equipment for Iraq's battered electricity grid were pending. Since 1996, when Baghdad accepted the Security Council conditions for selling oil to pay for food and medicine, $33 billion worth of Iraqi oil has been exported in quantities that are now unlimited. The aid deliveries, which started in 1997, have gone beyond basic needs to encompass oil-pumping machinery, electrical transformers and a wide variety of other equipment to renovate Iraq's physical plant, which was badly damaged in the Persian Gulf war and subsequent airstrikes. In an average month, Mr. Myat said, Baghdad imports 150,000 to 200,000 tons of food and other goods through the program, to feed a population of 23 million. "I think the Iraqi food-distribution system is probably second to none that you'll find anywhere in the world," he said. "It gets to everybody whom it's supposed to get to in the country." But he followed up with a caveat. "You can give all the food and medicine you want," Mr. Myat said, but living standards would not improve unless housing, electricity, clean water and sanitation and other essential services were restored. Mr. Myat said medicine was bought in bulk and distributed through a network of pharmacies and hospitals. But some inhalers imported for Iraqis suffering from asthma have turned up for sale in Damascus and Beirut. "Human nature being what it is," Mr. Myat said, "I'm quite sure there must be a few enterprising people who might have taken it across the border, and that's what I'm trying to find out." Mr. Myat's observations were useful because, as Secretary General Kofi Annan told the Security Council last month, Baghdad has not allowed independent experts into the country to assess the effects of the sanctions in place since Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Council said sanctions would be lifted after it had determined that Iraq no longer had chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as the means to make them. But President Saddam Hussein has refused to let United Nations arms inspectors return to resume the verification broken off nearly two years ago. Mr. Myat was appointed the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq in March after two predecessors, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, quit in protest against what they described as the suffering that sanctions inflicted on the Iraqi people. Mr. Myat told reporters that he would keep doing his job because if the oil-for-food program foundered, Iraqis would have nothing to fall back on. "Let's not forget that's the only game in town," he said. http://www.nytimes.com LANGUAGE: ENGLISH LOAD-DATE: October 20, 2000 ----------------------------------------------- FREE! 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