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[casi] BBC article on OFF

Please write and complain.  Beyond infuriating.

Iraq oil-for-food scheme ending

By Peter Greste
BBC correspondent in Baghdad

The United Nations is to formally end the biggest aid scheme of its
history, the oil-for-food programme which helped keep an estimated six
out of 10 Iraqis alive during the last years of Saddam Hussein's regime.

A guide to living conditions and the reconstruction effort in Iraq

In detail

The UN's mandate officially ends at midnight although Iraq's Coalition
Provisional Authority will take over most of the programme to prevent a
collapse in aid.

The programme was, quite simply, the most ambitious experiment in aid
ever undertaken by the United Nations.

It became a test of the organisation's capacity to shield ordinary people
from the potentially catastrophic impact of sanctions aimed at a
political elite.

Schools and hospitals

The UN imposed its sanctions on the Baghdad Government seven years ago to
force Iraq to prove that it had no weapons of mass destruction.

It supervised the sale of Iraqi oil and used the funds to help keep Iraqi
civilians alive.

It was an enormous undertaking.

In all, some $65bn passed through its accounts, spent not just on food
and medicine, but in the Kurdish north of the country the UN became
virtually a de facto government, running things like schools, hospitals
and communications.

Now that is all about to end.

The UN's mandate expires at midnight on Friday.

Winding down

The spending will not suddenly stop though.

The American-led coalition has renegotiated almost all of the contracts
and re-employed most of the local staff.

Ordinary Iraqis probably will not immediately notice the difference

There is just more than $4bn still left in the bank and the new trade
ministry will gradually wind down the programmes over the next seven

The coalition official co-ordinating the handover, ambassador Stephen
Mann, said whatever happens after that will be up to the new Iraqi
Government to decide.

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