Iraq earns additional €354 million under UNs oilforfood scheme

According to statistics released today by the Office of the Iraq Programme, over the past week Baghdad exported an average of 2.08 million barrels of crude per day, earning an estimated €24.22 per barrel.Meanwhile, the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq released holds on 41 contracts worth $125 million, but placed new holds on 38 contracts with a combined value of $140.6 million. In total, 1,170 contracts worth $3.6 billion are now on hold.The recently released contracts were for a variety of goods, including trucks, bulldozers and pumps, while the new holds were placed on contracts for gas turbines, cranes and a water treatment plant, as well as laboratory, medical and hospital rehabilitation equipment.According to the Office of the Iraq Programme, contracts are generally put on hold because they lack technical specifications or because the goods in question have the potential to be used for purposes other than those stated. read more

UNs top anticrime official to step down next year

The spokesman announced the decision last Friday in a statement released after Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Mr. Arlacchi, the Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna and Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.During their meeting, the two officials discussed Mr. Arlacchi’s appointment, which is set to expire on 28 February 2002. “Mr. Arlacchi indicated that he could not continue in his post for another full term,” the statement said. “It was agreed that he would stay in his position until mid-2002.”According to the statement, Mr. Annan and Mr. Arlacchi also reviewed the state of the UN drug control programme, especially the situation in Afghanistan in the context of recent developments.

Ignoring womens poverty imperils nations World Bank official tells UN meeting

Failure to pay attention to poverty among women carries a serious economic risk to society at large, an official from the World Bank told a key United Nations women’s rights committee today.Ignoring gender disparities came at a great cost to people’s well-being, to a country’s ability to grow and govern, to the effectiveness of development assistance and, ultimately, to poverty reduction, Cecilia Valdivieso, Sector Manager for Gender and Development, World Bank, told the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which began its annual session in New York on Monday.Offering a specific example, Ms. Valdivieso pointed out that women’s access to agricultural resources could increase productivity in sub-Saharan Africa by 20 per cent, while ensuring equal schooling for the region’s boys and girls could lower child mortality by 25 per cent. Also addressing the session today, Wariara Mbugua, Chief of the Gender Issues Branch of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), spoke out against a passive approach to economic growth, calling instead for special measures to help promote the advancement of women, such as providing them with access to credit and technology. She also stressed that efforts to eradicate poverty among women must be linked to their ability to access reproductive health services.For her part, Ndioro Ndiaye, Deputy Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), called attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan, where following more than two decades of conflict, a glimmer of hope had, at last, appeared. At the same time, she cautioned that in order to participate fully in the reconstruction of their country, Afghan women must first overcome the “numbness” of isolation and years of oppression. read more

Security Council backs global certification scheme for rough diamonds

In a unanimous resolution, the Council said it supported the ongoing process to refine and implement the regime, which was adopted at the Interlaken Conference, and called the plan “a valuable contribution against trafficking in conflict diamonds.” The 15-nation body said it looked forward to the scheme’s implementation and strongly encouraged the participants to further resolve outstanding issues.The plan, known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, is a negotiating procedure to establish minimum acceptable international standards for national certification schemes covering the import and export of rough diamonds.Today’s resolution welcomed the voluntary system of industry self-regulation, as described in the Interlaken Declaration. The text also stressed that the widest possible participation in the Kimberley Process was essential and should be encouraged and facilitated, and urged all Member States to actively participate in the Scheme. read more

UN nuclear watchdog concerned by removal of equipment buildings from Iraq

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which was then transmitted to the Security Council, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says other information available to the IAEA, confirmed through visits to other countries, indicates that large quantities of scrap, some of it contaminated, have been transferred out of Iraq from sites monitored by the Agency.”It is not clear whether the removal of those items has been the result of looting activities in the aftermath of the recent war in Iraq, or as part of systematic efforts to rehabilitate some of the locations,” Mr. ElBaradei writes.He says these activities may have a significant impact on the Agency’s “continuity of knowledge” of Iraq’s remaining nuclear-related capabilities and raise concern about the proliferation risk associated with dual-use material and equipment disappearing to unknown destinations.The United States Government has been informed of these observations, Mr. ElBaradei adds, and clarifications are expected.Under previous Security Council resolutions, the IAEA is required to submit progress reports every six months on its verification activities in Iraq. However, the Agency pulled out of the country on the eve of the war last year, and since then has been concentrating on analyzing information collected since it began inspections in 1991. read more

UNbacked generic medicines factory being set up in Afghanistan

The machinery will equip a newly-constructed factory named Baz International Pharmaceutical Company Limited. The locally produced generic medicines will significantly improve the availability of safe, effective and affordable medication in the country, UNDP said.The plant will be fully Afghan-owned and will be managed by Dr. Karim Baz, an experienced local doctor. Approximately 40 local employees will be taught relevant operating skills and production technology.The “Afghan Generic Medicines Project,” initially launched in 2002, brings together private and public partners, including the Swiss non-profit organization Business Humanitarian Forum (BHF), the Brussels-based European Generic Medicines Association (EGA) and the UNDP Country Office in Afghanistan. Currently, one-quarter of all Afghan children die before the age of 5, often due to the lack of proper medication for treatable infectious diseases. read more

UN World Food Programme seeks 26 million for droughtstricken northern Burundi

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that a combination of poor rains, a disease that halved the harvest and extreme poverty has left 2.2 million Burundians in the country’s former breadbasket in the north in need of some $26 million worth of food aid.A total of 72,000 tons of food is needed for distribution between now and July, when the next crop comes in, WFP said.“Poor rains and the mosaic plant disease are taking their toll on crops. As a result, it is estimated that, in some areas, the harvest will be just 50 per cent of last year’s, and will not cover people’s basic food needs until the next harvest in June,” Gerard Van Dijk, WFP Country Director in Burundi, said.The amount of money Burundi’s families spend on food has risen 20 per cent from last year, while incomes have declined by 35 per cent, WFP said.“At a time when very welcome steps have been taken on the long road to peace, it is a bitter disappointment that something as simple as the weather still makes the daily life of the average Burundian a constant challenge,” Mr. Van Dijk added.WFP will provide some 6,000 tons of food aid for more than 870,000 people in the worst affected areas of the country this month, in coordination with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which will be distributing seeds in an effort to ensure a better harvest in June.“By providing emergency food aid with seeds, our aim is to make sure that seeds are used for planting and are not eaten,” Mr. Van Dijk said. read more