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UN identifies $1 billion worth of humanitarian goods for priority delivery to Iraq

UN identifies $1 billion worth of humanitarian goods for priority delivery to Iraq

The United Nations office overseeing the humanitarian Oil-for-Food programme today said it has identified over $1 billion worth of goods and supplies as potential priorities for delivery to Iraq over the next 45 days.

According to the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), the deliveries would come under the recent adjustments to the suspended programme, which allows Iraq to use part of its oil revenues to buy humanitarian supplies and on which 60 per cent of the population depend as its sole source for food.

The programme was temporarily halted on 17 March following the withdrawal of all UN staff from Iraq on the eve of hostilities until last Friday, when the Security Council adopted a new resolution giving Secretary-General Kofi Annan more authority to administer the operation for the next 45 days.

The initial assessment by the OIP and UN relief agencies has identified more than 450 contracts for medicines, health supplies, foodstuffs, water and sanitation and other materials identified by the Council as priorities for shipment, the Office said. The contracts are held by suppliers from some 40 countries representing almost every region of the world.

The ongoing review of contracts in the Oil-for-Food pipeline includes priority goods already in transit by land and sea, and priority items approved but not yet shipped that stand the greatest chance of being accelerated in the pipeline to reach their destination within the 45-day window provided by the resolution, according to the OIP.

The programme has asked individual UN agencies to "adopt" the most urgently needed supplies already in transit, according to their needs, and go directly to suppliers to re-negotiate the most favourable terms for rapid delivery. A review of the approved but unshipped contracts will then follow, with agencies again asking the suppliers to urgently identify the status of these orders and modalities for rapid delivery to Iraq.