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UN Asks for $25 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Iraq - 2003-06-23

The United Nations has launched an appeal for more than $25 million for humanitarian aid in Iraq. The call for funds follows an earlier appeal for $2.2 billion in relief money.

Contributions from the international community and funds provided by the Oil-For-Food program have raised close to two billion dollars for humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people.

Now, the United Nations is seeking to raise the remaining $259 million for Iraq's humanitarian needs. The appeal comes as dozens of potential donor nations attend a two-day conference on Iraq's reconstruction at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette said many of the serious humanitarian needs that were predicted never materialized. But she said a broad-range of urgent needs emerged, particularly after the widespread looting in Iraq that followed the war.

"Many of those needs we had anticipated, including the need to support the Public Distribution System that provides food rations to the entire population. But many other requirements only emerged during and after the conflict. In particular, the widespread looting and destruction of hundreds of public facilities has given rise to a range of humanitarian needs as well as constraining humanitarian activities," Ms. Frechette said.

U.N. officials said emergency repairs of Iraq's water and sewage systems and hospitals were required because of the looting.

So far, food aid, which is already fully funded, has been the largest component of humanitarian relief, requiring more than $2.1 million metric tons of food.

U.N. agencies are trying to direct funds towards children with projects on health and nutrition, education, and de-mining. Efforts to promote gender equality and to support the return of refugees and internally displaced persons are also included in the revised appeal.

The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopez Da Silva, said the improved security situation has not eased concerns of U.N. humanitarian agencies, particularly regarding attacks on their personnel.

"The situation is not yet fully under control. We still have severe restrictions in the movements of our own personnel. We have parts of the country which we still consider that U.N. staff can not operate at all. So it [security] is still an issue of concern and I am afraid that it is going to remain so for a while," Mr. Da Silva said.

U.N. officials say their aim is to complement the efforts of the U.S.-and-British-coalition. But the United Nations intends to phase out the bulk of its humanitarian assistance in Iraq by the end of the year.