19 November 2003
Oil-for-Food Programme Set to Close 21 November
The United Nations will terminate its administration of the
multi-billion dollar Oil-for-Food Programme (OFFP) in Iraq at
midnight 21 November.
Operational responsibility for the seven-year-old programme,
including all humanitarian projects funded by oil revenues, assets
ranging from schools to power stations and all OFFP contracts with
suppliers will be transferred to the Coalition Provisional Authority
The balance of unencumbered funds held in the UN Iraq Account will
be transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq, which is under the
direction of the CPA.
The UN has already transferred $3 billion to the Development Fund
from the UN Iraq Account, where some $1.6 billion remains.
ceremony is to take place Friday in Erbil (northern Iraq), marking
the termination of the UN OFFP and its transfer to the CPA.
As stipulated by Security Council resolution 1483 (22 May 2003),
there will be no further role of the UN in operating the
humanitarian programmes funded through the OFFP. However, a pipeline
of some $8.2 billion in humanitarian supplies and equipment
continues to be delivered, and the CPA has indicated it will
maintain most of the ongoing projects and operations, eventually
turning them over to Iraqi authorities.
Before the war,
some 893 international staff and 3,600 Iraqis worked for the
Programme in Iraq: most international staff left the country in the
wake of the Baghdad bombing of 19 August, while national staff
continued operations. As of 19 November 2003, there were 3,394 UN
national staff, of whom 2,544 were in the north and 850 in the
centre/south. The CPA has indicated that most of the
Iraqi staff associated
with project implementation in the three northern governorates will
In financial terms, the OFFP has been the largest programme the UN
has ever administered. Between 1996 and the onset of war in March,
the OFFP achieved progressive improvements in health, education and
public infrastructure. (See accompanying fact sheet). Malnutrition
rates among children were reduced by 50 percent in six years, and
more houses were constructed in 2002 than in 1990.
The OFFP has also been one of the most efficient of UN programmes,
operating through nine agencies with a 2.2 percent overhead.
The UN Security Council established the OFFP in 1995 in response to
a humanitarian crisis that followed the comprehensive sanctions
imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Under the
programme, 3.4 billion barrels of oil were exported, with 72 percent
of the revenue going toward humanitarian needs. The balance was
allocated to Gulf War reparations (25 percent); UN administrative
costs (2.2 percent) and the weapons inspection programmes of IAEA
and UNMOVIC (0.8 percent).
The UN’s Oil-for-Food Programme has
tens of millions of Iraqis, by using Iraqi oil revenues to purchase
and manage some $46 billion worth of humanitarian assistance,
supplies and projects. Proceeds from oil exports bought food and
medicines; built schools, clinics and housing;
maintained and rehabilitated electrical supply and oil
infrastructure; improved water treatment and distribution.
Virtually all Iraqis received food through its country-wide network;
60 percent were totally dependent upon food rations. Food imports
totaled more than 500,000 metric tons a month, and deliveries have
been continuing despite the current conflict and insecurity.
In the northern Iraqi governorates of Erbil,
Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah, nine United Nations agencies implemented
In the 15 governorates of southern and central Iraq, the OFFP was
implemented by the former Government of Iraq, with the UN monitoring
for effective and equitable distribution. Food distribution has been
handled by some 44,000 Iraqi food agents. UN agents also monitored
oil shipments at export points and authenticated OFFP supplies at
An orderly handover of the Programme’s assets and operations by
the 21 November deadline set by the Security Council has been
accomplished on time and in the face of chronic insecurity,
including the 19 August bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad
which led to the temporarily withdrawal of most UN international
staff. Still, the UN has sustained essential humanitarian assistance
through the dedication of Iraqi national staff.
UN agencies are handing over all documents and dossiers for OFFP-funded
projects they managed. They have also completed the renegotiation of
contracts with suppliers as stipulated by the Security Council.
After 21 November, UN agencies will continue their mandated
activities in humanitarian assistance to Iraq with revenues received
from donor countries from humanitarian appeals in March and June
2003. Iraqi authorities may request further technical assistance
*WHO, FAO, WFP,
UNDP, UN-Habitat, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNOPS, ITU
information please contact: Ian Steele Tel. 212 963 1646 email: