Security Council extends Annan’s authority over Iraqi aid programme
The 15-member body voted unanimously to extend until 3 June an amended version of the Oil-for-Food programme, under which Iraq was allowed to use a portion of its oil revenues to buy food and other relief supplies.
The programme was temporarily halted on 17 March after the withdrawal of all UN staff from Iraq on the eve of hostilities. The Security Council adopted a new resolution on 28 March giving Secretary-General Kofi Annan more authority to administer the operation for 45 days, until 12 May, including prioritizing deliveries and finding new entry ports to speed their shipment.
Seeking the extension, Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the UN Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), which oversees the Oil-for-Food programme, told the Council on Tuesday that 11 of those 45 days were lost while procedures were being approved, resulting in a limited number of contracts so far be processed - $454.6 million-worth out of a pipeline of some $10 billion.
He said the extension would not only recover the 11 lost days but also offer an opportunity to utilize additional supplies available in the pipeline. Such a technical rollover coincides with the end of the mandate of the current phase of the original Oil-for-Food programme.