The United Nations office overseeing the humanitarian Oil-for-Food programme said today it had identified four new locations for the bulk shipment of emergency food and other items to Iraq once security conditions allow.
The designation of Latakia in Syria, Iskenderun in Turkey, Aqaba in Jordan, and Kuwait City, each offering the advantages of bulk handling facilities, warehousing for supplies and good road links to Iraq, follows recent adjustments to the programme, which allowed 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 after the withdrawal of all UN staff from Iraq on the eve of hostilities, and the Security Council adopted a new resolution on 28 March giving Secretary-General Kofi Annan more authority to administer the operation for the next 45 days, including prioritizing deliveries and finding new entry ports to speed their shipment.
The Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) said more locations were expected to follow. UN agencies and organizations are continuing to review contracts in the Oil-for-Food pipeline for items that will be useful in the current emergency and can be expedited.
The agencies are already in contact with some suppliers to discuss the redirection of items in transit or those which are ready to be shipped before 12 May - the end of the 45-day period. The Security Council has defined priority items under the new resolution as food and medicines, health supplies and water and sanitation supplies and equipment.
The review of the Oil-for-Food pipeline has confirmed that only a modest portion of the supplies in it is likely to be shipped in time to meet emergency requirements in Iraq, the OIP said.
Meanwhile, OIP Executive Director Benon Sevan reported to the Security Council today on the work that has been done in accordance with the 28 March adjustments. The Council asked Mr. Sevan to report to the 661 committee, which set up the Oil-for-Food programme, on the operation's evolution in what remains of the 45-day period, Council President, Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, said.