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Attached is a Reuters interview with Tun Myat, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. He directly addresses reports of Iraq's recent slow pace in ordering OFF supplies ("nothing sinister"). And while he notes his job is vastly different than his predecessors (Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck) due to current revenue levels, he says: ''I hope it's possible for a resolution to be arrived at sooner rather than later...this whole thing has gone on for far too long.'' Incumbents into crusaders ... === http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters01-30-041655.asp?reg=MIDEAST Iraqi oil-for-food no substitute for sanctions end BAGHDAD, Jan. 30 - The United Nations humanitarian aid programme for Iraq is no alternative to lifting U.N. sanctions but the scheme is meeting some success in improving life for ordinary Iraqis, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday. ''The oil-for-food programme is not without its shortcomings and it is never going to be a substitute for normal economic life,'' Tun Myat, U.N. Coordinator in Iraq, told Reuters in an interview. ''But when you take a long hard look at things, it's the only game in town,'' said Myat, nine months to the day in his post. ''What else have the Iraqi people got at this point in time?'' The U.N. official was optimistic that once sanctions, now a decade old, were lifted, Iraq would get back on its feet with relative ease -- thanks to its enormous oil resources. ''They are probably better off than most developing countries will ever be,'' Myat said. ''They've got this huge collateral under the ground that could be used for investment that they would require.'' While noting the inroads the U.N. aid scheme has made in the food and medicine sectors, the U.N. official lamented the programme's shortcomings. ''Obviously there has been progress made in food and medicine as a result of four years of oil-for-food,'' Myat said. ''But the impact still has to be felt in the critical areas of water, sanitation, electricity, telecommunications, transport infrastructure, housing and education.'' OIL REVENUES TRICKLE DOWN Those sectors should soon get a boost from the huge influx of revenue generated by sky-high world oil prices, he said. ''Because of the very large sums of money that have become available particularly during 2000...the impact is beginning to happen and it will continue to improve soon,'' he said. Over the past few days Myat got to the bottom of Iraq's recent slow pace in ordering supplies for health, education, water, sanitation and oil equipment. ''The real reason is nothing sinister,'' he said. It all boils down to a new Iraqi law from last October which eliminates the role of middlemen in supplying contracts to those sectors. ''Many ministries here took time to readjust their purchasing procedures, sources of supplies and identification of suppliers,'' Myat said. ''And this is probably the main reason why some of the ministries have fallen very badly behind.'' The progress Iraq has made under sanctions owes much to the wherewithal of its people, Myat, a native of Myanmar, said. ''There are few good things coming out of sanctions, but becoming more self-reliant is certainly one of them,'' he said. The oil and agricultural sectors stand out as prime examples. Oil-for-food's extra revenue has meanwhile allowed Myat to escape the frustrations which forced his two predecessors to resign over the impact of sanctions. ''I did not have to oversee a programme that was hopelessly poor and inadequate to meet the needs of the Iraqi population because of the remarkable amounts (of revenue) available now.'' NEW MOMENTUM WITH NEW US PRESIDENT The U.N. official was hopeful there might be some renewed momentum towards lifting sanctions under the new U.S. administration -- despite the hard line taken by Washington. ''I believe that a strong conservative administration is usually better at negotiating and arriving at hard decisions and solutions,'' Myat said. ''I hope it's possible for a resolution to be arrived at sooner rather than later...this whole thing has gone on for far too long.'' And he was optimistic that progress might be made at talks next month between Iraqi and U.N. officials in New York. Admired for his administrative skills while at the World Food Programme, Myat wants to improve the efficiency of the oil-for-food programme. ''The system was devised for food and medicine and it's now being applied to a programme far bigger than anything that was ever envisaged at its inception,'' he said. But he says his sensitive job has been made easier by the Iraqi people. ''After 10 and a half years of sanctions...I would not have been surprised if I found the average Iraqi to be hostile and xenophobic,'' Myat said. ''But I have found them to be friendly, helpful and generous towards foreigners. ''This is absolutely a remarkable trait.'' Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk