Iraq protested on Sunday to the director of the UN Oil-for-Food program, Benon Sevan, about the blocking of contracts for medicines and medical equipment, the official INA news agency reported.
Health Minister Umid Medhat Mubarak, in talks with Sevan on the "consequences of maintaining the unjust embargo on Iraq," denounced "US and British representatives on the UN sanctions committee for blocking imports of medicines and medical equipment within the oil-for-food program."
These representatives "had blocked, under false pretexts with the aim of harming the Iraqi people, contracts totaling 372 million dollars under Phase VII of the humanitarian accord which expired in June," Mubarak said.
"The policy of blocking adopted by the United States and Britain has aggravated the suffering of Iraq's ill and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, particularly children struck down with epidemics and different types of cancer," he said.
Sevan began on August 1st a 17-day tour of Iraq for talks with officials of the sanctions-hit state who have called for a review of the humanitarian deal.
Sevan said on his arrival in Baghdad that the UN sanctions 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.
Iraq, which has been under embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, is authorized to export crude oil under the program 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 sanctions committee, and accuses the United States and Britain of blocking its contracts with foreign suppliers - BAGHDAD (AFP)
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