Basic food items are scarce in Iraq

January 02, 1991|By New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Basic food items are such as eggs and fresh milk have either disappeared or are priced beyond the reach of most Iraqi families after four months of a total trade embargo.

"Sanctions are working, no matter what anybody says," one Asian ambassador said. "The country has had no income in the last five months, so there has got to be a limit to their endurance," he added.

President Saddam Hussein's government is encountering increasingly serious shortages in its food rationing program that has helped Iraq sustain its during the United Nations-sanctioned cutoff.

Since September, Iraqi families have seen declines of 25 percent to 50 percent in the amount of basic food items they are able to get in government stores with rationing coupons.

More and more Iraqi families are being forced into the open food market, where prices of basic food items are seven times higher than they were at the outset of the crisis, but where shortages of rice, sugar, and milk have become more apparent.

The strongest indication of a looming food crisis was a government announcement recently that all excess supplies of sugar and flour on the open market were to be confiscated by Iraqi authorities administering the rationing program.

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