Annan: 'Depoliticize' Iraq oil-for-food scheme

The United Nations Security Council Thursday will consider a report by UN Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan released yesterday in which he urges "all those concerned" in the Iraq oil-for-food program to "depoliticize" the humanitarian scheme. Annan said that though the program was put in place within the framework of a sanctions regime, it was "essential to depoliticize and facilitate the implementation of the program in order to alleviate the continued suffering of the Iraqi people."


By the OGJ Online Staff


LONDON, Mar. 7�The United Nations Security Council will Thursday consider a report by UN Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan released yesterday in which he urges "all those concerned" in the Iraq oil-for-food program to "depoliticize" the humanitarian scheme.

In his report to the council, Annan said the program, through which Baghdad can buy relief supplies using a portion of its oil revenues, was put in place within the framework of a sanctions regime. He said it was "essential to depoliticize and facilitate the implementation of the program in order to alleviate the continued suffering of the Iraqi people.

"The Iraqi people must receive all the assistance that they direly need and deserve," Annan said.

Annan's report said the Iraqi populace's declining purchasing power has meant that despite a "surfeit of vegetables, fruits, and animal products," most Iraqis cannot afford to buy these basic necessities.

The UN secretary general went on to question the number of "holds" being placed on contracts for humanitarian goods by the Security Council's so-called 661 committee, which monitors sanctions against Iraq. "It is regrettable that it has not yet been possible for the committee to start a fresh round of technical meetings to review the holds placed on applications in each sector," said Annan.

According to UN spokesman Fred Eckhard, UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission Executive Chairman Hans Blix said yesterday that "the commission is prepared to move fast if the government of Iraq gives the green light for inspections."

After a stalemate over setting a new pricing formula last year, the Security Council reinstated humanitarian aid to Iraq Dec. 5, removing the barrier to the export of 2.2 million b/d of oil.

The agreed pricing formula deepens the discount at which Iraqi crude is sold to the US and Europe.

The oil-for-food program was begun in late 1996 as part of an initiative that aims to ease the impact of UN sanctions imposed on the country in 1990 following the Gulf War.

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