USIS Washington 


Washington -- The National Security Council released the following
fact sheet on humanitarian aid to Iraq, April 27, 1998:

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Humanitarian Aid under the Sanctions Regime

From the outset, the UN has provided humanitarian exemptions to the
economic sanctions it imposed upon Iraq following Saddam Hussein's
invasion of Kuwait. These exemptions for food, medicine and other
humanitarian supplies are designed to alleviate the suffering of the
Iraqi people while preserving the integrity of the sanctions regime.

The sanctions currently in force are necessary to compel Saddam
Hussein's compliance with the terms of the cease-fire to which he
agreed following the Gulf War. He alone has the power to lift these
sanctions by complying with all relevant UN resolutions.

The Oil-for-Food Program

The U.S. originally proposed the "oil-for-food" program in 1991,
immediately after the Gulf War. This program allows Iraq to export
crude oil for the purchase of humanitarian goods under UN supervision.
All proceeds from oil sales are deposited into an escrow account
controlled by the UN. Iraq may draw from this account to purchase
food, medicine and humanitarian supplies through approved contracts
only. Deductions are made for reparations, humanitarian purchases for
northern Iraq, and operating expenses.

Saddam Hussein rebuffed this humanitarian gesture for almost six
years, leaving the Iraqi people to suffer while he maneuvered to get
sanctions lifted. UNSCR 986 was finally implemented in December 1996,
establishing the oil-for-food program with a $2.1 billion ceiling.

The UN has consistently renewed the oil-for-food program. UNSCR 1111,
adopted in June 1997, and UNSCR 1143, adopted in December 1997, each
extended the program for six months. Since the program was first
implemented, over 4.5 million metric tons of relief has arrived in

UNSCR 1153

In February 1998, the UN voted to further increase the oil-for-food
program by adopting UNSCR 1153. The amount of humanitarian aid
available to the Iraqi people under UNSCR 1153 represents the most
extensive relief effort in the history of the United Nations. The
potential $5.256 billion it provides in aid over the first six-month
period is without precedent. The following comparisons offer a sense
of the program's magnitude:

-- According to UN figures, the amount of aid available under UNSCR
1153 exceeds the total amount of worldwide humanitarian assistance
provided to all countries targeted by the UN for relief over the past
three years combined ($3,887,648,218).

-- UNSCR 1153 represents a more than 200% increase in the amount of
humanitarian assistance provided under the current oil-for-food
program. It exceeds the total amount of aid provided throughout the
program's entire history ($3,081,143,000 in contracts submitted for
review since 1996, of which over 95% have been approved).

Saddam Hussein's actions during implementation of the oil-for-food
program have demonstrated that humanitarian relief for his people is
not a priority.

-- The Iraqi regime continues to hide its weapons of mass destruction,
hoard food for its elite military units, and build lavish palaces,
instead of devoting resources to improving the health and welfare of
its people.

-- Since implementation of the oil-for-food program, the Iraqi regime
has drastically reduced its own food purchases by some $300 million to
$500 million per year.

The United States and the international community are concerned that
the lifting of sanctions without Iraq's full compliance with UN
resolutions would give Saddam Hussein the opportunity to divert the
vast sums he could generate in oil sales to reconstituting his

The United States led efforts in the Security Council to secure
passage of UNSCR 1153. As the largest donor country to UN humanitarian
programs, the U.S. plays a central role in the implementation of all
multilateral relief efforts. Although the U.S. is determined not to
lift the economic sanctions until Saddam Hussein fully complies with
all UN resolutions, it is equally committed to minimizing the
humanitarian consequences for the Iraqi people.

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