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UN Fund Issue 5.5 Million Iraqi Students Textbooks

Some 5.5 million Iraqi students to get textbooks thanks to UN fund transfer

Some 5.5 million Iraqi students and 25,000 teacher trainees will receive textbooks for the next academic year under a funding agreement approved by a United Nations Security Council committee.

The project, worth $72.3 million in all, aims to print more than 66 million copies of newly edited textbooks for nationwide distribution for the 2003-2004 academic year. Most existing textbooks were looted or burned after the war. Adding to the challenge is a decision to edit out propagandist statements from the texts without changing the educational content. Some 509 titles are up for replacement.

The Security Council committee that monitored Iraq's purchase of humanitarian supplies and food under the sanctions imposed against the ousted regime approved the transfer of funds at the request of the UN Office of the Iraq Programme, which oversaw the purchases under the oil-for-food plan that is being phased out by 21 November.

Also approved this week were a $104 million project for fertilizer for Iraq's winter wheat and barley crops, and $6.8 million for fungicides to contain smut - a disease that affects wheat and barley seeds.

Meanwhile, the acting governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Faleh Dawod Salman, has sent a letter to the Security Council urging Member States to transfer all frozen Iraqi assets to the Development Fund for Iraq account that has been established at the US Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

On the humanitarian front, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is sending a C-130 Hercules cargo plane from Turkey to Basra in southern Iraq today with three prefabricated warehouses and 90 tents as it continues to build up relief supplies to assist returning Iraqi refugees and displaced persons going back home.

Basra and nearby Umm Qasr received 244 refugees returning from Saudi Arabia's Rafha camp last week, the first UN repatriation convoy since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

A second convoy with a similar number of refugees is expected in Basra early next week, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski told a briefing in Geneva. In all, more than 3,600 refugees are expected to leave Rafha this year.

In northern Iraq, UNHCR has begun a shelter programme to help displaced people who had returned to their original villages rebuild houses destroyed during the previous Government's campaign against Iraqi Kurds.


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