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Dear all, The 180-day report for Phase VIII of the 'Oil for Food' programme (S/2000/1132) is now available, for example on the Office of the Iraq Programme website, http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/reports/phase8_180.html. An introductory statement by Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, can be found on http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/latest/bvs041200.htm. The oil for food reports are the single most important regular source of information on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. Below is a summary of some of the issues raised in the last report; this is by no means exhaustive and a posting of a more thorough analysis to the list would be very welcome. The new report is longer than the previous 180-day reports, and has what I perceive to be a new tone. The last 180 day report was (a little) optimistic, for example concluding that: "Now that increased revenues are available for the implementation of the programme, the Government of Iraq is in a position to reduce current malnutrition levels and to improve the health status of the Iraqi people"[§ 97]. Half a year later, the outlook is much more bleak. In several areas, there is no more than 'modest', 'little', or 'no' improvement. There are appeals for the Government of the Iraq to do better in several areas: submit applications more timely; do better at targeted nutrition; give higher priority to education; and devote more resources to relief for vulnerable groups. The stress has shifted from such criticisms to a stronger focus on the constraints inherent to the 'Oil for Food' Programme as it stands at the moment, Above all, the report makes clear that the real hindrances to the implementation of Oil for Food are firstly, the excessive number of holds on contracts, and secondly the absence of a "cash component" in the programme. On holds, the conclusion is that: "128. [...] the volume of holds has risen drastically to $2.31 billion as at 31 October 2000. This is certainly one of the major factors that are impeding programme delivery in the centre and south. Current holds on such sectors as electricity, water and sanitation and agriculture impact adversely on the poor state of nutrition in Iraq. Similarly, holds on trucks badly needed for transportation of food supplies may soon affect distribution of food rations, which is also compounded by collapsing telecommunications facilities. I therefore appeal to all parties concerned to fully cooperate and address the excessive number of holds placed on applications." Reflecting the importance of holds, the report contains a new section is introduced (§§ 27-44), on the "processing and approval of applications". A new observation mechanism is proposed, which, it is hoped, should make it easier to approve contracts that require monitoring within Iraq [§§ 43, 64, 65]. Nevertheless, the Secretary General does not hesitate to make statements that amount to a questioning of the motive for holds, for example saying that "I must note that in many cases in which the requested clarifications and/or information appeared to have been provided, the applications concerned remained on hold, without any indication of the reasons provided for the continuation of the holds concerned" [§ 40]. As for the cash component: "133. The absence of an appropriate cash component has increasingly hampered the implementation of the programme. A cash component is essential for all sectors of the programme. With the increased funding level and volume of supplies and equipment being delivered to Iraq, the effective implementation of the programme cannot be achieved unless there is an early positive resolution to the present impasse." These are clear testimonies on the continuing adverse impact of sanctions. Above all, they show that the increase in revenue in the 'Oil for Food' programme is not adequate, in spite of the $16 billion that the government likes to point to as a solution of the plight of the Iraqi people. Also, oil wealth or not, the report points to the continuing poverty of ordinary Iraqis: "125. Undoubtedly, the humanitarian situation in Iraq has generally improved since the inception of the programme, but the lives of the ordinary Iraqis have not improved commensurately. As indicated in my last report, although locally produced food items have become increasingly available throughout the country, most Iraqis do not have the necessary purchasing power to buy them. Unfortunately, the monthly food rations represent the largest proportion of their household income. They are obliged to either barter or sell items from the food basket in order to meet their other essential needs. This is one of the factors which partly explains why the nutritional situation has not improved in line with the enhanced food basket. Moreover, the absence of normal economic activity has given rise to the spread of deep-seated poverty." How to bring about the resumption of normal economic activity is, of course, clear to everyone: lift sanctions. Even Peter Hain admits to this knowledge, as he put it in a speech on 7 November: "Suspension [of sanctions] would offer Iraq an enormous advantage, opening the door to the reintegration of Iraq into the international community and allowing economic regeneration to begin." [http://www.fco.gov.uk/news/speechtext.asp?4347] Below follow selected excerpts from the report, as illustrations of the impact of first the cash component, and then of holds. Yours, Per Klevnäs NUTRITION PROGRAMMES: 82 [...] Another major problem hampering the effective implementation of the targeted nutrition programme in the central and southern governorates is the lack of a cash component for the transportation of supplies, staff training, the supervision and monitoring of malnourished children and nutrition education. EDUCATION: 106. ... Without an early resolution of the outstanding question of the cash component, however, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of deteriorated school buildings, the improvement of the learning environment and the promotion of increased enrolment may prove elusive. RAILWAYS: 74. The first four items ordered for the rehabilitation of the Iraqi railway system [...] arrived during the reporting period. [...] Unfortunately, most of the vital complementary railway equipment [...] has remained on hold. WATER AND SANITATION: 90. In this sector perhaps more than in any other, progress is dependent on coherent planning, the reduction of wastage, the availability of a cash component and a substantial reduction in holds placed by the Security Council Committee on applications for the purchase of essential equipment for civil construction work ELECTRICITY "98. Over the last four years, there has been a steady increase in electricity demand and a steady decline in supply" "100. [... I]n the majority of cases the problems of preventing further deterioration and stabilizing power generation and distribution were exacerbated by or directly attributable to applications on hold. As at 31 October 2000, 188 contracts worth $871 million were on hold, representing 37 per cent of all holds in all sectors, which, if released and fully implemented, would add a further 1,443 megawatts to the grid." "101. In previous reports, I have repeatedly drawn the Council's attention to the multiplier effects of electricity shortages on the health status of the population. Continued holds on applications for control, communication and safety equipment constitute an unacceptable hindrance to the implementation of the humanitarian programme. " TELECOMMUNICATIONS "108. I wish to draw attention to the deplorable state of telecommunications services throughout Iraq and the large number of holds placed on applications for contracts. As at 31 October 2000, 48 applications, valued at $141 million, had been placed on hold, out of a total of 107 telecommunications contracts, valued at $230.5 million, received by the Office of the Iraq Programme" "109. [... T]he facilities are deteriorating to the point where no effective telecommunications services would soon be available in Iraq unless appropriate action is rapidly taken." DROUGHT INTERVENTION: "119. ... in August 2000 ... cereal production had declined to about 40 per cent, grazing lands to 10 per cent and the price of sheep to 20 per cent of the levels of 1997, the pre-drought year" "120. The impact of drought intervention programmes would have been greater if the necessary complementary items, such as pump sets, were not placed on hold. The total value of holds on applications for drought intervention projects reached $100 million." -- Research Co-ordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq http://www.casi.org.uk fax 0870 063 5022 Girton College, tel: +44 (0)79 905 01 905 Cambridge CB3 0JG fax: +44 (0)87 016 96 390 England -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk