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Goff welcomes action on Oil for Food programme


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

29 March 2003

Goff welcomes action on Oil for Food programme

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today welcomed news that the United Nations Security Council has agreed on changes that will allow the Oil for Food programme in Iraq to restart immediately.

The Council’s unanimous agreement in New York this morning (NZ Time) will see the programme, suspended when war broke out, put under the control of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

“I welcome the Security Council’s early and united action on this issue. It is pleasing to see the Council has put previous differences behind it to make a swift decision crucial to the health and well-being of the Iraqi people,” Mr Goff said.

The Oil for Food programme was established after the 1991 Gulf War to enable the Iraqi government to sell oil via a UN mechanism, and to use the proceeds to buy humanitarian and civilian supplies. It is estimated that 60 percent of Iraqis received their food through the programme before the current conflict began.

“It is now essential that humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people resumes as soon as practical, and in that regard the Secretary General’s new powers should enhance the delivery speed and impact of substantial relief supplies already in the pipeline," Mr Goff said.

“New Zealand has already contributed NZ$3.3 million to UN agencies and other organisations such as the Red Cross to assist with urgent relief, and we will be looking at what further assistance we can offer.

“It is clear that the needs of the Iraqi people are great, with the United Nation today issuing an emergency appeal for a further US$2.2 billion just to provide ordinary Iraqis with the basics of life over the next six months.

“This is a huge sum and will be beyond the capacity of the international donor community to meet, and it underlines the importance of getting the Oil for Food programme back up and running as soon as possible.

“There has also been a partial lifting of travel sanctions on Iraq to allow access for humanitarian workers, and the automatic approval within 24 hours of new applications for humanitarian assistance. This will allow organisations such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent to deliver emergency supplies,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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