Possible military action in Iraq spurs UN refugee agency to prepare for relief operations

4 February -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, said today that while all must be done to prevent a military intervention in Iraq, the UN agency must also be ready for the humanitarian outcome of possible military action and prepared to assist up to 600,000 people.
"During the day we buy supplies and then in the evening we pray for peace," he told reporters in Geneva.

Mr. Lubbers stressed that UNHCR will primarily deal with refugees outside Iraq's borders and possibly internally displaced persons headed for the border but prevented from crossing it. He reiterated that UNHCR would work closely with the local Red Crescent societies.

Meanwhile, the UN office overseeing the humanitarian "oil-for-food" programme reported today that Iraqi exports totalled 15.2 million barrels for the week ending 31 January, an average of about 2.17 million barrels per day.

According to the weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme, the week's exports generated an estimated $405 million in revenue for the operation, which allows Baghdad to use a portion of the proceeds to purchase humanitarian supplies for the country.