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Ex-UN Head in Iraq Slams Sanctions

September 30, 1998

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ The outgoing head of U.N. humanitarian programs in Iraq said Tuesday he quit because he didn’t want to be associated with the adverse impact of U.N. trade sanctions on the country.

``The fact that we in the United Nations have been obliged to sustain ... the sanctions regime, for me is a very unfortunate and uncomfortable situation,″ Denis J. Halliday told a news conference at the end of his 13-month tenure.

He said he was unhappy with the way the United Nations dealt with the Iraqi situation: imposing stringent resolutions on the one hand and allowing a humanitarian program on the other.

The humanitarian program ``is underfunded, cumbersome, slow and costly,″ Halliday said. ``This is not a productive situation for anybody.″

Halliday, who had announced his decision to quit in July, leaves his post on Wednesday. He will be replaced by Hans von Sponeck, a German official with the United Nations Development Program.

The U.N. Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq oversees the distribution of food and other humanitarian goods that Iraq purchases from money earned through the U.N.-approved sale of a limited amount of oil.

U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait ban all other sales of oil, Iraq’s main export.

Halliday said the oil-for-food program, which began in December 1996, has represented ``a shot of oxygen for the Iraqi people″ but is still wrought with ``painful delays, frustration, politics and bureaucracy.″

Halliday, who joined the United Nations in 1964, was an assistant secretary-general before taking up his Iraq post.

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