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March 30, 2003: Iraqi Oil-for-Food Program - 2003-04-02

This is a VOA Special English Background Report.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council voted to approve a resolution restarting the oil-for-food program for Iraq. However, the Security Council made some changes to the resolution that created the program. The Security Council gave U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan more power to administer the operations of the plan for the next forty-five days.

The oil-for-food program permits Iraq to use part of its oil profits to buy food and medicine. It provides food for sixty-percent of Iraq’s population of more than twenty-seven million people. The U-N temporarily halted the program on March seventeenth. On that date, the Secretary General Annan ordered the withdrawal of all U-N employees from Iraq.

The new resolution gives the U-N Secretary-General the power to reconsider sales agreements that already have been approved. It permits Mister Annan to seek new sales agreements for medical supplies. It also provides for new places to receive emergency supplies. The resolution must be re-approved in forty-five days.

Germany’s Ambassador to the U-N, Gunter Pleuger, leads the committee that supervises the oil-for-food program. He said he was satisfied with the new resolution. He said the resolution includes requirements for occupying countries involved in the war. It also calls for much more aid for the Iraqi people. All fifteen members of the Security Council voted for the resolution.

Ambassador Pleuger also noted that the resolution did not give the U-N secretary-general the power to negotiate future oil-sales agreements. He said the goal of the current agreement was to provide aid that was already meant for the Iraqi people.

The oil-for-food program was started by a Security Council resolution in April, nineteen-ninety-five. The U-N established the Office of the Iraq Programme in October, nineteen-ninety-seven.

The oil-for-food program has approved more than forty-four-thousand-million dollars in sales agreements since it began. Almost twenty-seven-thousand-million dollars in aid has been transported to Iraq. More than ten-thousand million dollars in aid is waiting to be sent to the country.