Oil-for-food chief urges UN and Iraq to adopt fresh approach on programme
The director of the UN "oil-for-food" programme in Iraq, Benon Sevan, on Tuesday urged both the organization and the sanctions-hit state to adopt a fresh approach and be more flexible to improve the humanitarian deal.
"There is an urgent need to look into the implementation of the programme with a fresh look, with a fresh approach and flexibility," Sevan told reporters. "Without breaking rules and procedures, I think we can use the rules more credibly and avoid, on the one hand, putting in place procedures to expedite and, on the other hand, not allowing its full implementation.
"As I said, there is room for improvement in the behaviour and performance by all parties. There has to be a concerted effort to move forward," said Sevan, who is due to leave Iraq Wednesday after a 17-day tour, during which he has held talks with Iraqi officials calling for a review of the aid programme.
Iraq, which has been under embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, is authorised to export crude oil under the programme to finance imports of essential goods under strict UN supervision. Baghdad has frequently complained of delays in the arrival of supplies, which have to be vetted by the UN sanctions committee, and accuses the United States and Britain of blocking its contracts with foreign suppliers.
But Sevan said on his arrival in Baghdad that the committee had now agreed "on a list of parts and equipment which would be approved by a group of (technical) experts" rather than the committee itself. Also under new "procedural improvements," he said, lists have been drawn up of food, health, educational and agricultural products that would not need to be submitted to the sanctions committee for approval.
© Agence France Presse 2000
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