Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Struggles to Get Aid Supplies to Bosnians and Iraqi Kurds Bosnia Fighting and Iraq Tensions Slow Delivery as Snows Set In

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Struggles to Get Aid Supplies to Bosnians and Iraqi Kurds Bosnia Fighting and Iraq Tensions Slow Delivery as Snows Set In

Article excerpt

THE United Nations is now racing winter weather to get supplies into the former Yugoslavia and to Kurds in northern Iraq.

In both relief efforts, UN officials indicate deliveries are now behind schedule mainly as a result of delays caused by man, not by nature. However, once snows begin to block roads, it will become much more expensive and difficult to bring in relief supplies to both areas.

The Kurdish effort involves shipping kerosene, wheat seeds, and flour to about 3 million Kurds who are not getting supplies from Baghdad in the south.

In fact, last week, UN officials halted shipments to the Kurds while they worked on improving security for the truck convoys which have been damaged recently by small hard-to-find bombs planted on them. Supplies are now being shipped to warehouses in Dohuk until safe transport can be arranged through Iraqi-controlled territory to Kurdish lands.

"We must get the supplies through before the snows block the roads," says Jan Eliasson, nndersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. Mr. Eliasson said Dec. 23 that the window of opportunity to get supplies in was measured in days, not weeks.

UN officials had originally planned to ship 40 million liters of kerosene, which is used for heating and cooking, to the Kurds to get them through the winter. As of last week, they had shipped 18.7 million liters. However, Gregoire Brancoven, a UN official monitoring the shipments, says it is likely the Kurds will need more - possibly as much as 100 million to 120 million liters.

UN officials have been buying the kerosene from Baghdad and some from Turkey. However, there has been an increase in tension with Iraq over the last week.

The Iraqis have deployed a large number of troops near the Kurdish area and appear to be conducting exercises designed to intimidate the Kurds. On Dec. 27, the United States shot down an Iraqi jet over a similarly UN-protected area in southern Iraq where Shiite Muslims live.

UN officials are also trying to get in enough wheat flour to get the Kurds through the winter. Since July, the UN has shipped in 17,500 metric tons. However, Mr. Brancoven says the UN hopes to ship in 34,200 metric tons to get the Kurds through the winter. …

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