The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

New 180-day 'Oil for Food' report available

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,  
An introductory statement by Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq
Programme, can be found on

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

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."

Below follow selected excerpts from the report, as illustrations of the
impact of first the cash component, and then of holds.


Per Klevnäs

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.

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.

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.

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

"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. "

"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."

"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                  fax 0870 063 5022

Girton College,                 tel: +44 (0)79 905 01 905
Cambridge CB3 0JG               fax: +44 (0)87 016 96 390

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]