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'99 Hum. Panel on "Improving" OFF: Insufficient

In light of Mr. Tun Myat's (UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq) 19 October 2000 briefing (see 
<> 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:
1999 Humanitarian Panel
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 
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 

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. 

LOAD-DATE: October 20, 2000

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