Iraq asked the United Nations on Sunday to free up $400 million from the surplus in an escrow account to purchase humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people, reported The Associated Press.
The request came in a letter from foreign minister Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and was carried by the official Iraqi News Agency.
"I call upon you to transfer these funds to buy humanitarian supplies for Iraqis instead of keeping them useless in the escrow account," said Sahhaf in his letter.
The Oil-for-Food program allows Iraq to circumvent UN economic sanctions and sell oil under UN supervision.
However, the money earned has to be deposited in an escrow account in a French bank and can only be used to buy food and humanitarian goods after every contract has been approved by the UN sanctions committee, said AP.
On Saturday, deputy agriculture minister Basil Dalali said over $7 billion is frozen in the account, the agency said.
In a statement issued May 30th, the UN Iraqi Program's Office estimated that 1,185 contracts worth $1.68 billion are being held up by the sanctions committee. Sanctions were imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, said AP.
Sahhaf blamed the US and British representatives for the contract delays.
"They approve a contract for a machine, putting on hold another contract for parts needed to make the machine work," said Sahhaf in his letter.
He asked Annan to apply pressure on the United States and Britain to "stop this abnormal situation."
"These governments must understand that their criminal policy toward Iraq, which is causing the death of many children, women and elderly, shall bring shame to them in the present and the future," he said in the letter - Albawaba.com
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