Sevan Named UN Iraq Oil Food Deal Office Director

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)–The United Nations created a new office to handle the Iraqi oil-for-food deal on Monday and named Benon Sevan–an assistant secretary-general–as its director.

The unit will also handle other services needed by the Security Council’s Iraq sanctions committee–UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. It will begin operations on Oct. 15.

Most of this work is currently handled by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs–headed by Undersecretary-General Yasushi Akashi. It is expected to move to Geneva under a different name as part of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reform of the world body.

Under the oil-for-food program–which went into force last December–Iraq can sell up to $2 billion worth of oil over six months to raise funds for humanitarian goods needed by its people. The plan is an exception to UN trade sanctions–imposed after Baghdad’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

The sale–purchase and distribution of the supplies are closely monitored by the United Nations. Sevan will report directly to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Denis Halliday–the director of the oil-for-food program in Iraq–will report to Sevan–Eckhard said.

Sevan–a national of Cyprus–has been with the United Nations since 1965. He is currently the assistant secretary-general for conference and support services.

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