U.N. to appeal for $259 million for Iraq's humanitarian needs

Saturday, June 21, 2003

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations will launch an appeal Monday for an additional $259 million to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people until the end of the year, a U.N. official said Friday.

Representatives from 50 prospective donor nations will return to the United Nations on Tuesday to discuss the reconstruction of Iraq and lay the groundwork for a donors conference in the fall.

The aim is to ensure that the immediate humanitarian needs of Iraqis are met "and the transition to longer-term reconstruction is fully under way by the beginning of next year," a U.N. statement said.

But the United Nations made clear that it intends to phase out most humanitarian assistance by the year's end.

The world body issued an emergency appeal March 28 for $2.2 billion for food, tents, water, medicine and other humanitarian goods not immediately covered by the U.N. oil-for-food program for a period of six months.

The new appeal is for funding to pick up when that six months runs out at end of September.

Before the war, 90 percent of Iraq's population received food under the U.N. oil-for-food program, financed by Iraqi oil sales. It is being phased out over the next six months.

Money from oil sales will now be deposited in a new Development Fund for Iraq, controlled by the United States and Britain and used to rebuild the country.

The United Nations said "generous donors" have already provided about $900 million and the oil-for-food program has provided about $1.1 billion.

The United Nations said the total amount of food aid needed until the end of the year -- about $1.56 billion -- has been funded, but money is needed for health care, clean water and sanitation, electricity, education, agriculture, mine clearance, and assisting returning refugees and internally displaced people.

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