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[casi] Demise of OFF - and Iraqis

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So whose going to do the accounting? Ahmed Chalabi? best, f.


UN concerned as Iraq oil-for-food programme nears end

UNITED NATIONS (AP)  With the UN's oil-for-food humanitarian programme set
to end on Nov. 21, Security Council members have expressed concern about the
fate of contracts and deliveries.
Benon Sevan, who runs the programme, told the council Tuesday that his
office will continue "a smooth hand over" of remaining activities to the
US-led coalition.
But he said its wrap-up work has been hampered by a cutback in the UN's
international staff after two bombings at the world body's headquarters in
"Handing over a multibillion dollar programme of such complexity and
magnitude during the six-month period" set by the council "would have been
extremely difficult even under the best of circumstances," he said.
"Doing so under current conditions of insecurity and reduced on-site
staffing capacity will require a degree of realism, understanding and
pragmatism, as well as flexibility from all parties involved." The programme
allowed the former Iraqi regime to sell unlimited quantities of oil,
provided most of the money went to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian
goods. It was adopted to help ordinary Iraqis cope with sanctions imposed
after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Since the programme began in December 1996, Sevan said, about $65 billion
worth of oil was exported, more than $46 billion was allocated to the
oil-for-food operation, and more than $30 billion worth of goods were
delivered to Iraq.
Secretary General Kofi Annan suspended the programme in March on the eve of
the US-led military campaign that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime and the
Security Council voted on May 22 to lift sanctions and to eliminate the
programme by Nov. 21.
Before the war, the programme was providing food for 90 per cent of Iraq's
population and goods worth some $10 billion were in the delivery pipeline.
As of this week, Sevan said, there was still more than $7.56 billion in the
Sevan said he didn't know how much money would be left in the oil-for-food
escrow account when the program ends. The money is to be transferred to a
development fund for Iraq's reconstruction controlled by the United States
and Britain as occupying powers.
US Ambassador John Negroponte urged Annan to transfer at least $1 billion
from the oil-for-food account to the reconstruction effort.
Sevan told the council that in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, where the
United Nations ran the programme, he still planned to transfer over $3.5
billion worth of completed and ongoing projects to the coalition, including
$1.5 billion worth of assets.
In central and southern Iraq, the United Nations has determined that 3,154
approved and funded contracts worth $6.36 billion had been classified "to
have relative utility" after the war, he said. So far, 1,653 contracts, just
over 52 percent of the total, have been renegotiated to deal with postwar
changes but UN agencies assured him the rest would be completed by a Nov. 3
He criticised the United States for not arranging to confirm the arrival of
goods at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, despite agreeing on a method for doing
so a month ago.
Germany's UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger, who heads the Security Council
committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq, called for Sevan's office to
publish a list of contracts that won't be processed, and the criteria used
to determine that they were not essential.
France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere echoed the call for
publication of a list and a reason for those contracts not deemed essential.
Russia's UN Ambassador Sergey Lavrov requested detailed information on the
reason why certain projects were not given priority status.
The council's resolution adopted in May setting the timetable for ending the
programme said action on contracts determined to be "of questionable
utility" would be delayed until Iraq has an internationally recognised
government that can determine "whether such contracts shall be fulfilled."
Thursday, October 30, 2003

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