Global Policy Forum

UN Coordinator to Leave Iraq


September 13, 1998

Baghdad - The high-profile U.N. coordinator of the Iraqi oil-for-food progamme, Denis Halliday, will leave Iraq at the end of September after he resigned from his post in July, a U.N. official said on Sunday.

Halliday "is scheduled to leave Iraq on 30 September after a tour of duty of 13 months in Iraq," Eric Falt, spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said. He said the 57-year-old Irish diplomat had paid a farewell visit to Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf on Saturday night. Halliday discussed with Sahaf "the undermining of high social standards and behavioral patterns prevalent in Iraq" prior to the U.N. trade sanctions imposed for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Falt said.

Halliday also expressed satisfaction that the oil-for-food programme had been able to make some difference in the life of the Iraqi people, particularly in the food and health sectors, he added. The oil-for-food programme allows Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil to buy necessary humanitarian supplies to offset the impact of the sanctions on ordinary Iraqis. The United Nations in June raised the amount of oil Iraq can sell under the programme to $5.25 billion every six months.

But according to a U.N. report revenues for the programme fell "far short" of expectations, mainly because of a decrease in oil prices. Earlier this month the director of the oil-for-food programme, Benon Sevan, criticised the Security Council, especially the United States, for holding up equipment Iraq needs to upgrade its oil industry. Credited with injecting momentum into the relief programme, Halliday was said to be frustrated with constraints from the U.N. Security Council and other U.N. officials. He is also known to be in favour of lifting sanctions against Iraq as soon as possible.

Halliday, an assistant secretary-general, is the fourth coordinator of the Iraqi programme since the operation begin in December 1996. He received more support than his predecessor from relief workers in Iraq. Falt said Halliday would also pay a farewell visit to northern Iraq, a Kurdish-inhabited region which has been outside the control of the Baghdad government since soon after the end of the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait.

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