Global perspective Human stories

Iraq: head of UN's 'oil-for-food' programme ends visit to northern provinces

Iraq: head of UN's 'oil-for-food' programme ends visit to northern provinces

The United Nations official overseeing the humanitarian programme for Iraq has concluded a weeklong review of the operation in the country's northern provinces in an effort to speed up and improve the implementation of the scheme, known as oil-for-food.

During his visit from 22 to 28 January to three Iraqi northern governorates, Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the UN Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), met with local authorities and representatives of UN agencies to focus on ways to strengthen cooperation with the regional officials and remove bottlenecks in order to expedite delivery of humanitarian supplies and equipment.

While in Dahuk, Erbil and Suleimaniyah, Mr. Sevan, who was accompanied by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Tun Myat, also inspected many projects and visited hospitals, health centres and housing for internally displaced people and returnees.

"We need to provide job opportunities, schools, health facilities in order to get these unfortunate residents out of these miserable living conditions," he said, highlighting the need to improve the lot of returnees.

On Monday, Mr. Sevan returned to Baghdad to resume his discussions with authorities there.

Meanwhile, Iraq's oil exports under the oil-for-food programme rose for the second consecutive week, averaging 2 million barrels per day in the week ending 25 January, the OIP said today.

The exports generated some $200 million in revenue at current prices and rate of exchange, bringing to $1.18 billion the total earned since the December 2001 start of the current phase of the programme, which allows Iraq to use a portion of its oil income to buy humanitarian relief supplies.