New Iraq inspection chief takes over, outgoing humanitarian coordinator spells out concerns
Iraq-UN, Politics, 3/2/2000
Hans Blix, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, yesterday officially assumed his duties as the head of the newly-created UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) weapons monitoring organization for Iraq.
Blix said he will start by developing an "organizational plan" for UNMOVIC's work, using the Security Council resolution that established the commission as a guideline. Blix said he had spoken with workers on UNMOVIC's predecessor, UNSCOM, to "draw on their memory of what was effective and useful and what modifications they think there should be."
This comes as the UN implements new procedures aimed at speeding up approval of contracts some food and educational items under the oil-for-food agreement. Fred Eckhard, spokesman for United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, said that a list of items which can receive expedited approval, including foodstuffs, and medical, agricultural and educational supplies, has been approved by the Sanctions Committee for implementation.
Many of these items were the subject of concern for the outgoing Iraq humanitarian coordinator Hans von Sponeck, who was critical of the oil-for-food program. In a press briefing yesterday at United Nations headquarters, Blix said that there are three areas where the oil-for-food program was inadequate: the overall financial value of the program, the content of the program, especially in the area of education, and delays in the arrival of supplies purchased within the program.
Von Sponeck said the daily calorie level in the food baskets distributed within the program was less than 2000 calories a day and characterized this as inadequate. He also said that there is an inadequate supply of medical drugs available and that a lack of financing for needed items had hindered public services such as water, sewage and garbage collection.
He asserted that of $1.1 billion allocated for the energy sector, Iraq had only received $112 million, while items valued at four times that amount are still "on hold."
Von Sponeck said the sanctions could be characterized as an "intellectual embargo" in which Iraqis could not be trained for responsible leadership because of limits on the importation of materials needed for education.
He defended the distribution of materials that had reached Iraq, saying that 91.7% of all materials had reached their end users, while 72% of medical supplies had been distributed-- the lower number due to stockpiling and quality control.
He also asserted that a disproportionate percentage of oil-for-food monies compared to population was allocated to Iraq's northern Kurdish areas, with 19.4 cents of every dollar going to 13% of the population.
He also said the inadequacies of the program were due both to factors within and outside Iraq.
New statistics on Iraqi deaths under UN embargo
France praises outgoing UN official's accuracy
UN humanitarian official in Iraq resigns in protest to sanctions
Blix to chair new Iraqi arms inspection group
Please add a link on your webiste pointing to ArabicNews.com and bookmark ArabicNews.com & subscribe to our daily email news bulletin.
| Advertise on ArabicNews.com. MyFlowers.com sold more than $2700 of flowers in one month advertising on ArabicNews.com! Make your company, and products a success. Special rate for new and small business. Inquire!Advertising Info