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8 April 2003

Weekly Update

29 March- 4 April

Four Regional Ports Identified for Transhipment of Emergency Supplies to Iraq 

The Oil-for-Food Programme has identified four new locations for the delivery and transhipment of emergency food and other items to Iraq once security conditions allow. 

The new locations, with more expected to follow, are the Mediterranean seaports of Latakia (Syria), Iskenderun (Turkey), the Jordanian port of Aqaba on the Red Sea and the Gulf port at Kuwait City. Each offers the advantages of bulk handling facilities, warehousing for supplies and good road links with Iraq.  

Meanwhile UN agencies and organizations are continuing to review contracts in the Oil-for-Food pipeline for items that will be useful in the current emergency and can be expedited. The agencies are already in contact with some suppliers to discuss the redirection of items in transit or those which are ready to be shipped before 12 May – the end of the mandate established by the Security Council in resolution 1472 (2003) of 28 March. The new resolution gives the Secretary-General authority for 45 days to access priority supplies in the Oil-for-Food pipeline and to use available funds to speed their shipment. Operations at the programme’s five traditional entry points were temporarily suspended the day before war started when UN international staff were withdrawn for safety reasons. The Programme has been given flexibility to renegotiate contracts and redirect shipments where necessary. 

The Security Council has defined priority items under the new resolution as food and medicines, health supplies and water and sanitation supplies and equipment.

The review of the Oil-for-Food pipeline has confirmed that only a modest portion of the supplies in it is likely to be shipped in time to meet emergency requirements in Iraq. Most of the approved contracts are for everyday ‘peacetime’ needs.  Absent are urgently needed items for refugees, health and nutrition, shelter, education and landmine protection. It is also unclear whether the mix of foods in the pipeline will match the required quantities and types of commodities that make up the monthly ‘basket’ of food rations distributed through the Programme. Missing from the pipeline are such items as high protein biscuits and therapeutic milk needed to address malnutrition, and water purification supplies. The UN agencies and organizations now working their way through Oil-for-Food contracts have also noted that perishable food commodities require staggered deliveries that will be outside the scope of the 45-day shipping limit imposed by the Security Council.

Another limitation on rapid deliveries under the Programme is the fact that commercial shipping to Iraq slowed noticeably in the runup to war and reactivation of the delivery chain could take some time.

Additional information is available from the website of the Office of the Iraq Programme. For further information please contact Ian Steele email: steelei@un.org