The spokesman said that the proposal will be put to submitted to the WFP’s executive board ‘in the next few days.’ Once approved, it will be incorporated into the developing UN plan for humanitarian action in Iraq after the crisis.

The spokesman said that the plan is designed to meet the food needs of Iraq following the suspension of the oil-for-food programme and UN withdrawal of its staff earlier this week following the UN’s decision. This has led to the ending of deliveries of humanitarian goods into Iraq and the termination of exports of Iraqi oil through Mina Bakr in the south. About half of recent Iraqi oil exports, used to finance purchase of food and other humanitarian goods which are now supporting about 16 million Iraqis, are delivered by pipeline from Kirkuk to Ceyhan. However, there are fears that fighting in the area and the destruction of northern oil facilities could interrupt this too.

The suspension of deliveries into Iraq means that beneficiaries of the oil-food-programme are estimated to have no more than six weeks of rations.

‘This is basically to make sure that Iraqis have the capacity for feeding themselves,’ the WFP spokesman said about the new initiative. In the week ending 14 March, a total of $340 million worth of crude oil was sold under the oil-for-food programme. Most of it was used to finance humanitarian goods purchases.