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UN: Food Supplies Adequate in Iraq - 2003-04-08


The head of the United Nations World Food Program, James Morris, says that food supplies in Iraq are adequate for at least the next month. Mr. Morris says that food deliveries to Iraq that were organized before the war have so far prevented widespread shortages.

"At least the preliminary looks that our people have had suggest there is not a serious humanitarian food crisis in Iraq right now, that adequate food has either been available or is being delivered," he says. "Our focus is on the six months after the crisis comes to a conclusion and where the resources come from during this gap period before the oil-for-food program is put back in place."

Prior to the fighting, 60-percent of Iraqis had depended on the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program as their sole source of food, and the entire Iraqi population received some assistance from the government-run food supply. The United Nations suspended the oil-for-food program before the war began but resumed it at the end of March.

The World Food Program is preparing to feed the entire Iraqi population, including refugees and internally displaced people, until food distribution through the oil-for-food program can resume.

The World Food Program has already delivered three shipments of food to northern Iraq through Turkey. About six-thousand metric tons of flour are on the way and dried milk has already been delivered.

Late last month, United Nations relief agencies launched a $2 billion appeal for humanitarian aid for Iraq. World Food Program director James Morris says that political differences on the war have not affected the donor response to staving off a possible humanitarian crisis in Iraq. "We have commitments now from 11 different countries, I suspect we will have at least that many more helping us," he says. "The commitments will come from people have all kinds of different views about the military issue, the political issue."

Mr. Morris made his remarks prior to meeting with the U.N. Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. Mr. Morris is urging the international community not to overlook the needs of hundreds of millions of people in southern Africa, many of them women and children, who suffer severe food shortages.

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