rn: war against Iraq continues


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

Well, I thought I was "gone" from the RN list but I got up early enough to
send you something that has been on my mind - an update of the situation in

The comments from Voices in the WIlderness, at the beginning of this
posting, help to put the news stories which follow in perspective and
provide us with facts to help show that most news stories about the
humanitarian crisis in Iraq (and Yugoslavia) are designed to place blame on
demonized leaders, not on our own actions.

all the best, Jan

From: "andrew loucks" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: The Executive Director of UNICEF explains the differences in
Iraqi mortality rates (North vs. South)
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 12:46:25 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: Hamre, Drew <•••@••.•••>
Date: August 13, 1999 6:43 PM
Subject: The Executive Director of UNICEF explains the differences in Iraqi
mortality rates (North vs. South)

U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin has cited UNICEF's mortality
report as illustrating that "in places where Saddam Hussein isn't
manipulating the medicines and the supplies, (the sanctions regime) works."
This statement figured prominently in today's New York Times report by
Barbara Crossette, which was heavily syndicated in the U.S.

It's unfortunate the Times chose *not* to report UNICEF's own explanation of
the discrepancy of mortality rates.  Following is a key paragraph from an
Associated Press story, including comments from Carol Bellamy, the Executive
Director of UNICEF (see http://www.msnbc.com/news/300149.asp):

<begin snip>
       Bellamy said she believes the difference in mortality rates is the
result of several factors: The Kurdish north has been receiving humanitarian
assistance for longer than central and southern areas; agriculture in the
north is somewhat better; and evading sanctions is a little bit easier in
the north.
       Iraq's child mortality rate had been on the decline in the 1980s,
Bellamy noted.
       If that decline had continued in the 1990s, she said there would have
been half million fewer deaths of children under 5 during the period from
1991 to 1998.
       Bellamy said the findings cannot be easily dismissed as an effort by
Iraq to mobilize opposition to U.N. sanctions.
<end snip>

Ms. Bellamy's comments echo those of other humanitarian workers in Iraq.
Below, I've attached the comments of Hans von Sponeck (Dennis Halliday's
successor as administrator of oil-for-food) in conversation with Kathy Kelly
and others from Voices in the Wilderness; the full AP article is also

Upon review, it appears that the NYTimes article - while damaging - was
virtually alone in its simplistic finger-pointing.  Crossette is one of 3
NYT reporters that covers Iraq regulary (Judith Miller and Steven Kinzer are
the others), and she consistently finds the sins of Saddam more newsworthy
than the plight of the Iraqi people.  Her analyses have been indifferent to
the fact that blame for this tragedy is shared, and that the functional
cause of the disaster remains the embargo.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valey, MN USA

(First item from Kathy Kelly, VITW)
Here are a few more items from the April 5 transcript of the interview with
Hans von Sponeck.  Summarized, the main points are:

The reasons for the difference between the North and rest of Iraq are: (1)
the North has more funding per capita, (2) the North has a more
non-monitored goods flowing in, from Turkey, and (3) there is more private
activity in the North.
(Second item from Kathy Kelly, VITW)
VITW Update Letter - May 25, 1999

The US government's readiness to starve and bomb both Iraqi and Yugoslavian
civilians shows a readiness to sacrifice whole populations by use of force
when nonviolent means could have been used and when it seems the US could
predict, in advance, the adverse effects of decisions to use threat and
force. It's maddening to watch the US government use moralistic arguments
about using force to protect innocent people, only to then pursue policies
that have the same effect as the one ostensibly being attacked, only ten
times worse.

An Iraqi teenager's frustrated and impassioned plea still rings in my ears:
"You come and you say, 'you will do, you will do,' but nothing changes! I
am sixteen. Can you tell me, what is the difference between me and a
sixteen year old in your country? Aren't we all human beings? But we watch
our children die, every day, and we have no rights...my father heads the
electric company in this country and I study by candle light at night...and
that is only to mention one human right!" We must work very hard to become
voices for the young ones who struggle beneath weighty cruelty.

In your outreach efforts, you may encounter questions about recent concerns
over stockpiling of medicines and medical supplies within Iraq. UN
officials in Baghdad have helped us understand prevailing complexities
which affect these efforts. Special thanks to Chris Allen Doucot, Bert
Sacks and Joel Schorn for helping us summarize these observations (below).
Those of us who lack health insurance may have a special window of
understanding into what happens when people lack money to effectively
distribute medicines. Nine years ago, Iraqi health care professionals knew
how to distribute medicines and medical supplies with astonishing
efficiency. Now, they don't know how because they don't know
how to do it without money....and neither do underfunded health care
facilities in the US that attempt to serve uninsured patients!

In response to recent media stories in which U.N. Secretary General Koffi
Annan reported that $3 million of medical supplies are languishing
undistributed in Iraqi warehouses, and other press reports charging Iraqi
government with deliberately withholding the distribution of medical
supplies and overstocking the same supplies for military purposes, Voices
in the Wilderness would like to present the following information regarding
the stockpiling drawn from sources close to the humanitarian effort in Iraq.

In an April 5, 1999 meeting with a delegation of doctors, medical
personnel, and peace activists, Hans Von Sponeck, the U.N. Humanitarian
Coordinator for Iraq, warned of a great deal of misinformation about the
overstocking of medicines in hospitals and warehouses. "If you get from
someone a monocausal explanation, then start getting suspicious."

While the Iraqi government has at times ordered the overstocking of items,
Von Sponeck calls this act "one factor and not a major factor in our
opinion." He also disputes the military nature of the medicines.  "What the
military in a war situation needs in terms of medicine is not the kind of
medicine that we are bringing in for normal diseases and illnesses into the
warehouses," Von Sponeck said. More important in explaining the overstocking
are the following factors: Low wages of Iraqi warehouses workers, insufficient
transport, and the poor condition of Iraqi warehouses in the provinces
hinders distribution of medical supplies. A lack of cash in the hands of
Iraqi authorities also makes it difficult to insure shipments will be paid
for and therefore go through. The Iraqi government has to overcome numerous
obstacles put up by the sanctions to even find suppliers of medicines.

In an interview, Dennis Halliday, the former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator
for Iraq, indicated another problem regarding contracts: the Iraqi
government did not do a good job finding the right-sized companies to
distribute medicine. In addition, the U.N. Security Council has delayed for
months approving the distribution contracts.

The U.N. Security Council has not approved the refrigerator trucks required
to transport the medicine nor the computers necessary to run the inventory
system. Inefficiencies in the Iraqi Ministry of Health also hurt efforts to
distribute medicines.

In an April 22 1999 conversation with Hartford, Connecticut Catholic Worker
member Chris Doucet, the Deputy Director of the U.N. Humanitarian Program
in Iraq, Farid Zarif, cited not only the lack of refrigerated trucks but
also the roving electrical blackouts that spoil some of the medicine and
hamper its distribution. Through U.N. Resolution #986, in which Iraq was
allowed to sell a limited amount of oil in order to raise cash to buy food,
many items
arrived at the same time and could not be distributed because of lack of
trucks. Finally, Zarif said, technicians needed to install medical
equipment and devices needed to run the equipment have yet to arrive, and
thus the equipment continues to sit in the warehouse.

Dr. Hans Von Sponeck concluded: "The sanctions are an experiment that
failed. We must not do it again."


Kathy Kelly
Voices in the Wilderness
From: "andrew loucks" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: From the news
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 13:43:52 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: Harriet Griffin <•••@••.•••>
Date: August 13, 1999 4:51 AM
Subject: From the news

a.. Results of the 1999 Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys (URL)
    b.. Children pay price for Iraq blockade (The Independent)
    c.. d.. Children's Death Rates Rising in Iraqi Lands, Unicef Reports
(New York Times)
    e.. f.. With Little Notice, U.S. Planes Have Been Striking Iraq All Year
(New York Times)
    g.. Iraqi children 'dying because of sanctions' & Britons defy ban (The
    (Thanks to Dave Muller for the UNICEF URL)


Results of the 1999 UNICEF Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys

UNICEF, http://www.unicef.org/reseval/iraq.htm


The Independent, Friday 13 August 1999

CHILD MORTALITY in most of Iraq has more than doubled in the nine years
since United Nations sanctions were imposed, a leading UN agency said
yesterday. Citing "an ongoing humanitarian emergency," a report by the UN
Children's Fund (Unicef) said that in the south and centre of the country,
the area controlled by Saddam Hussein, the death rate for children under
five rose from 56 per 1,000 live births in the period 1984-89 to 131 per
1,000 in the past five years.

The United States, which opposes lifting sanctions until Iraq is disarmed,
blamed the Iraqi leader for the malnutrition and deaths of Iraqi children in
government-controlled areas. James Rubin, a spokesman for the US State
Department, said: "The bottom line is that if Saddam Hussein would not
continue to hoard medicines and capabilities to assist the children of Iraq,
they wouldn't have this problem. Clearly the blame for the suffering of the
Iraqi people falls squarely on the shoulders of its tyrannical leader. "In
places where Saddam Hussein isn't manipulating the medicines and the
supplies, this [the programme] works. We can't solve a problem that is the
result of tyrannical behaviour by the regime in Baghdad."


Children's Death Rates Rising in Iraqi Lands, Unicef Reports
New York Times, August 13 1999, by BARBARA CROSSETTE

UNITED NATIONS -- The first major survey of child mortality in Iraq since
the Persian Gulf War in 1991 has found that in areas of the country
controlled by President Saddam Hussein, children under 5 years of age are
dying at twice the rate they were before the conflict, UNICEF reported
Thursday. But in Kurdish areas in the north of the country, where U.N.
officials and not the Iraqi government administer food and medical programs,
the health of children appears to have improved to some degree, and
mortality rates have fallen.
    Iraq has consistently used the suffering of children to argue its case
against sanctions, a policy the Clinton administration has clung to in the
face of international criticism. When important foreign visitors go to
Baghdad, funerals of children are staged in the streets. The administration
is involved, however, in developing a Security Council plan to offer Iraq
new ways to cooperate in clearing itself of charges that it is still
harboring or attempting to make biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
That could lead to a suspension of sanctions, but no decision is expected
until the fall.

With Little Notice, U.S. Planes Have Been Striking Iraq All Year
New York Times, 13 August 1999, by Steven Lee Myers

WASHINGTON -- It is the year's other war. While the nation's attention has
focused on Kosovo, American warplanes have quietly, methodically and with
virtually no public discussion been attacking Iraq. Over the past eight
months, American and British pilots have fired more than 1,100 missiles
against 359 targets. That is more than triple the targets attacked in four
furious days of strikes in December that followed Iraq's expulsion of U.N.
weapons inspectors, an assault that provoked an international outrage. By
another measure, the pilots have flown some two-thirds as many missions as
NATO pilots flew over Yugoslavia in 78 days of around-the-clock war there.

The strikes, including ones as recently as Tuesday, have done nothing to
deter Iraqi gunners from firing on American and British planes patrolling
the "no flight" zones over northern and southern Iraq. They, like officials
in Baghdad, are acting as defiant as ever. And there appears to be no end in
sight to the war -- to the surprise and chagrin of some administration and
Pentagon officials.

Overshadowed for much of the year by the war in the Balkans, the
administration's policy toward Iraq is increasingly facing criticism. On
Wednesday, a bipartisan group of prominent senators and congressmen sent a
letter to Clinton scolding him for what they called "the continued drift" in
the administration's efforts. While they expressed support for the strikes,
they called on Clinton to give Iraq a new deadline to comply with U.N.
inspections and threaten "serious consequences" if Saddam refuses, including
more potent air strikes throughout Iraq and an expansion of the "no flight"
zones. They also called for increased support, including military aid, to
Iraqi opposition groups. The letter was signed by the Senate majority
leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi; Sens. Jesse Helms of North Carolina,
Richard Shelby of Alabama and Sam Brownback of Kansas, all Republicans;
Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, both
Democrats; Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif.

With the increase in tempo, the fighting over the zones is costing upwards
of $1 billion a year, though Pentagon officials say it is difficult to fix
an exact cost. More than 200 aircraft, 19 warships and 22,000 American
troops are devoted to the effort. The officials acknowledge that the strikes
alone will not topple Saddam, even though the White House has openly called
for the overthrow of his government and promised nominal support to
opposition figures. That has led to frustration. "He has been kept in
check," one Defense official said. "But the question is: Have you met any of
your long-term goals? I don't think so."

A senior administration official said that until a change in government
occurs, containment was the only viable policy at this time, politically and
diplomatically. "Neither this administration, nor this Congress, nor any
other country is prepared to take the measures that would be truly necessary
to ensure there was a change of regime," the official said. "If you want to
go beyond containment, you have to put your money where your mouth is. And
that means ground troops."

Note from Jan: I snipped out big sections of this article. It basically
would cite this bad thing that "Saddam" did and then another dumb response
from the US military/government. Reminds me of the discussions I have
sometimes had with children about their tiffs when I teach in schools. After
a while, the whole story gets so intricate and boring.... and I am left
feeling that this tit for tat retaliation stuff is a real dead end.

What is needed is the courage and creativity to step back and decide to get
out of the vicious circle of violence, of tit for tat. To ask not, "What
crummy thing did the other side just do?" but instead, "What might I do here
that would be useful?"

Iraqi children 'dying because of sanctions'

The Times, August 13 1999

New York: The first survey of child deaths in Iraq since shortly after the
1991 Gulf War shows a sharp increase in child mortality in
government-controlled areas and a significant decrease in the autonomous
north, Unicef, the UN Children's Fund said yesterday. Carol Bellamy, Unicef
Executive Director, said that the findings revealed an humanitarian
emergency in Iraq, which Unicef officials said was caused by a host of
factors, including sanctions, two wars, a collapsed economy and the response
of the Baghdad Government.

Ms Bellamy noted that Iraq's child mortality rate was on the decline in the
1980s. If that decline had continued in the 1990s, she said, there would
have been half a million fewer deaths of children under five from 1991 to
1998. Ms Bellamy said that the findings could not easily be dismissed as an
effort by Iraq to mobilise opposition to UN sanctions. She called on the UN
committee overseeing sanctions and the Iraqi Government to give priority to
"food-for-oil" contracts that will have a direct impact on the wellbeing of
children. (AP)

Britons defy ban

Two Britons have challenged police to arrest them when they return to
Heathrow today after defying UN sanctions against Iraq. Joanne Baker, from
Bristol, and Dave Rolstone, from Narberth, Pembrokeshire, from the Voices in
the Wilderness group, delivered medical supplies and textbooks without
export licenses. Mr Rolstone, 52, a boat builder, said the sanctions
amounted to a "policy of mass murder targeting Iraq's children".