The Executive Director of the United Nations Iraq Programme, Benon Sevan, will travel to the country in mid-January to hold meetings in Baghdad, a UN spokesman announced today.
During his visit, Mr. Sevan will review the "oil-for-food" programme, which allows Baghdad to use a portion of its revenue from petroleum sales to purchase humanitarian relief. He will meet with the relevant authorities, representatives of various UN agencies, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Tun Myat. The trip will mark the Executive Director's first visit to the country since August 2000.
The spokesman also said that yesterday Mr. Sevan had sent a letter to the Chairman of the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq expressing "grave concern at the unprecedented surge in the volume of holds placed on contracts by the committee." The total volume now stands at nearly $5 billion, including 1,265 contracts worth $4.28 billion now on hold.
Over the past week, Baghdad exported 15.5 million barrels of crude under the oil-for-food programme, selling them at an average price of approximately €19.60 (euros) or $17.70 per barrel, according to the latest figures released today by the UN Iraq Programme.