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Oil-For-Food Details Sent To Security Council

Details Of Independent Probe Into UN Oil-For-Food Programme Sent To Security Council

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has sent the Security Council a letter detailing the workings of an independent, high-level inquiry into allegations of corruption within the United Nations Oil-for-Food humanitarian operation for Iraq, a UN spokesman said today.

The terms of reference for the panel are designed to promote the maximum degree of transparency and effectiveness, Fred Eckhard said at a press briefing. The panel has yet to be constituted, although last Thursday the spokesman said its members might be named this week.

The Secretary-General said he would inform the members of the Security Council of the composition of the panel “in due course,” Mr. Eckhard added.

Starting in 1996, the Oil-for-Food programme enabled the sanctions-bound Government of Iraq to sell oil for food and humanitarian supplies and served as the sole source of sustenance for 60 per cent of the country’s estimated 27 million people.

All contracts for oil sales were approved by a Security Council panel – the so-called 661 Committee – which also oversaw most contracts for the purchase of relief supplies.

The operation was the UN’s largest-ever in financial terms – purchasing and managing some $46 billion worth of humanitarian assistance, supplies and projects – and achieved progressive improvements in health, education and public infrastructure. Malnutrition rates for children under 5 in the central and southern regions were cut in half, the capacity to undertake major surgeries increased by 40 per cent and more houses were built in 2002 than in 1990.

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