[Hpn] Iraq offers $94 million in humanitarian aid to Americans living in poverty. in poverty.

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Thu, 25 Jan 2001 10:49:06 -0700


Iraq offers aid to "wretched" Americans
Updated 3:29 PM ET January 19, 2001By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iraq sought U.N. clearance Friday for a gift of
$94 million (100 million euros) in humanitarian aid to "homeless and
wretched" Americans living in poverty.

In a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed
Saeed al-Sahaf said Baghdad meant the gift as an expression of "deep
sympathy for the human suffering and wretchedness of some 30 million U.S.
citizens who live below the poverty line."

"The vast majority of those people are black citizens who continue to suffer
from persecution and discrimination and live on refuse, deprived of the most
basic means of subsistence," Sahaf said.

"Their continued suffering must not be met with silence," said the letter,
which did not spell out how Baghdad planned to distribute the money if it
were approved.

Washington promptly dismissed Iraq's idea of donating money to poor
Americans as "ridiculous and nonsensical."

"It shows that what they are doing is playing political games with the
world," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Iraq is under a United Nations humanitarian aid program to relieve its
population from the effects of economic sanctions imposed over its 1990
invasion of Kuwait.

Under the sanctions, strongly backed by the United States, Baghdad is
allowed to sell oil under U.N. supervision and use the proceeds to buy food,
medicine and other essential goods.

A special U.N. Security Council committee monitors the sanctions regime and
is required to approve every Iraqi expenditure under the so-called
oil-for-food program.

The offer of assistance is Baghdad's second in recent weeks, made in an
apparent effort to embarrass champions of the U.N. sanctions regime
including the United States and Britain.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in December 2000 pledged 1 billion euros to
Palestinians to aid their uprising against Israeli occupation.

That request is pending before the special sanctions committee, and
diplomats said such requests were unlikely to gain approval any time soon
because the oil-for-food program was set up solely to help Iraqis suffering
from the effects of the U.N. sanctions.

Baghdad has demanded the immediate lifting of the sanctions, saying it
fulfilled its obligation under U.N. Security Council resolutions to
eliminate its weapons of mass destruction.

The council says Iraq must agree to let weapons inspectors return to verify
its claims before it will end the embargoes.