United Nations relief agencies reclaimed additional looted offices in Baghdad today and prepared for the first visit to Iraq by a UN agency head since the outbreak of hostilities in March.
The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), James Morris, will arrive in Baghdad on Sunday for a one-day visit and a first-hand review of progress in setting up the biggest humanitarian relief operation ever undertaken. He will also meet officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Trade and the US-led civil administration, as well as WFP and other UN staff.
WFP is gearing up to deliver 1.6 million tons of food over the coming five months – enough to feed the entire population, some 27 million people, 60 per cent of whom are estimated to be entirely dependent on monthly food handouts. WFP has already transported more than 100,000 tons of food into Iraq using corridors from Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan and Kuwait.
Meanwhile today, staff from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) were able to return to their Baghdad offices, which had been severely damaged by looters.
In the north, a UN team undertook a day trip to Kirkuk from Erbil to assess the humanitarian situation there. As soon as security permits, UN international staff will establish a permanent presence in Kirkuk.
A further group of 31 humanitarian workers entered Iraq today, bringing the total UN international staff to approximately 250.