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World Food Program says Humanitarian Crisis Avoided in Post-War Iraq


The U.N. World Food Program says its operations in post-war Iraq are a success and a potential humanitarian crisis has been avoided. Iraq's entire population of 27 million is currently dependent in some way on global food assistance.

U.N. World Food Program executive director, James Morris, said the international community has met the challenge and there is no food crisis in post-war Iraq. "The good news is that there has not been a food crisis. The world has responded in an incredibly generous way both those countries in involved in the conflict and those countries who had a different view of it - they have all helped the humanitarian work," he said.

Speaking to reporters in Bangkok Friday, Mr. Morris says the current program is one of the largest humanitarian undertakings in history with all of Iraq's 27 million people dependent in some way on the food assistance to meet daily intake needs.

The scale of the operation is immense. Every day more than nine-thousand vehicles carry 30,000 tons of food, sourced from Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait and supported by the international community.

The WFP has been working in Iraq for the past 12 years and took on a central role when the oil-for-food program was instituted to ease the humanitarian situation with sanctions on the former regime of Saddam Hussein.

This program allowed the former government to sell quantities of oil as long as most of the money went to purchase food, medicine and other necessary goods.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan suspended the program as the war against Iraq began and it is slated to be shut down in November. Mr. Morris said the U.N. WFP role in the assistance was vital. "We simply were the vehicle that the U.N. and world community wanted to use to see that the food was there so that during this transition period in Iraq that the food would available," he said.

Mr. Morris said after this transition period the new Iraqi administration should be able to sell sufficient oil to purchase the necessary food for the population.

Already Iraq's oil exports in July are forecast to exceed one million barrels a day with a target of the pre-war levels of 2.5 million barrels a day. Iraq depends almost entirely on oil sales for its budget revenues.