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U.N. Appeals for Donations for Iraq's Reconstruction

World body cites the lack of security and a credible government as hurdles in rebuilding.

June 24, 2003|From Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — Officials here warned Monday that lack of security and a credible government are hampering efforts to rebuild Iraq and they appealed for an additional $259 million to meet humanitarian needs through the end of the year.

But in a bit of good news, U.N. aid chiefs said food rations, on which 60% of Iraq's population depend entirely, had resumed nationwide.

However, Ramiro Lopez da Silva, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said major problems are keeping the country in an emergency situation, including an increase in attacks on U.S. troops, continued looting, unemployment and lack of electricity.

He also said the oil infrastructure in Iraq, which has the world's second-largest proven reserves, was hit as hard as other sectors by years of U.N. sanctions, the U.S.-led war and looting.

"The bottom line," Lopez da Silva told reporters, is that Iraq does not have "the capacity to pump and export the same levels that [it] was pumping and exporting prior to the conflict.

"The quantities of oil being exported at this stage are much lower, and it's going to take a while for that sector to be rehabilitated," he said.

Despite "determined steps" by the U.S.-led coalition to address the lack of law and order, Lopez da Silva said, criminals are increasingly organized and the movement of aid workers in some areas outside of Baghdad is severely limited.

In addition, more than 50% of Iraqi women suffer from anemia, and the rate of acute malnutrition has climbed to 7.7% from 4% before the war broke out in March, he said.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette launched the humanitarian appeal before potential donors from about 50 countries and a delegation of 12 Iraqi bureaucrats and civil servants working with the U.S.-British occupation authority, who were brought to U.N. headquarters in New York by the United States.

On March 28, the U.N. appealed for $2.1 billion for Iraq's humanitarian needs for six months and received nearly $2 billion. The $259 million would take care of the country's needs until the end of the year, when, Frechette said, the U.N. hopes the aid program will come to an end.

The appeal for Iraq is second in size only to the U.N. appeal for Afghanistan, said Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima.

Oshima and others stressed that the U.S. and Britain, as the occupying power, bear the main responsibility for the welfare of the Iraqi people and that U.N. officials don't expect another appeal next year.

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