Demonstration in Lafayette Park

November 28, 1997

"The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that UN sanctions on Iraq have been responsible for the deaths of more than 560,000 children in Iraq since 1990. Most children's deaths are from effects of malnutrition including marasmus and kwashiorkor, wasting or emaciation which has reached 12 percent of all children, stunted growth which affects 28 percent, diarrhea, dehydration from bad water or food which is ordinarily easily controlled and cured, common communicable diseases preventable by vaccinations, and epidemics from deteriorating sanitary conditions. There are no deaths crueller than these. They are suffered slowly, helplessly, without simple remedial medication, without simple sedation to relieve pain, without mercy.

There is one crime against humanity in this last decade of the millennium that exceeds all others in its magnitude, cruelty, and portent.

It is the US-forced sanctions against the 20 million people of Iraq. The whole population has suffered. More than 1 million have died, mostly among the elderly, the chronically ill, children, and infants."

The above is taken from a letter written by Ramsey Clark to Members of UN Security Council Before Their Bimonthly Vote on Sanctions January 1, 1996

Its easy not to think about dying children. Excuses and reasons why the children's deaths are necessary come easy to anyone who watches, listens or reads the mainstream news. Facing reality and truth, although both are often not easily available, is certainly a lot more difficult. Saddam Hussein, (who we sold weapons to during the Iran/Iraq war) has violated human rights. However, the death of over one million Iraqi civilians through starvation has not punished Saddam Hussein in the least. Just because the UN was created to enforce world peace decades ago, doesn't mean that everything it does today is inherently good or peaceful. Death through starvation is anything but peaceful. Its all to easy to wait for a few decades, and then look back and perhaps admit that all those deaths served no purpose, but to wait is to approve of the UN's actions, and to approve of the UN's actions is to approve of the death of over half a million Iraqi children.

One of the many excuses that keeps the sanctions in place is that Iraq's food distribution program doesn't work.

Peter L. Pellett who was the Team Leader of the UN/FAD Mission to Iraq on August 1995 answers the question quite well in the following excerpt from his letter to the editor of the Guardian Weekly.

"The system is highly effective in reaching the population; according to the Minister of Trade errors of duplication or omission occur only in 1.7% of cases. Each Distribution Centre is equipped with a computerized list of those entitled to receive rations. These lists are periodi-changes in household structure and location.

I cannot believe that continued sanctions are the answer. After five years the policy seems practically and ethically bankrupt. The question must be whether our humanitarian principles should support the continuation of these actions which literally are killing people. The incessant trumpeting of "human rights" at the same time as we continue to approve the sanctions seems to be blatant hypocrisy. Finally let me emphasize that this letter is written on a personal basis and is in no way officially endorsed by the UN Agency which supported the mission nor by the University of Massachusetts. "

Resolution 986, otherwise known as the "oil for food deal", is said to be helping the situation.

What most people don't know, is that of the $2 million worth of oil that Iraq exports every six months, only $800,000 is being used for food while the rest is being used for reparations to Kuwait and the UN. This means 25 cents per person per day, which those who visited Iraq say is to little. to late.

While the United Nations Security Council is the nominal power imposing the sanctions, the United States has forced this decision on the Council. Three of the five permanent members of the Security Council—China, France, and the Russian Federation—have sought to modify the sanctions. The US systematically eliminates opposition to the sanctions. It blames Saddam Hussein and Iraq for the effects of the sanctions, most recently arguing that if Saddam "stopped spending billions on his military machine and palaces for the elite, he could afford to feed his people." But only a fool would offer or believe such propaganda. If Iraq is spending billions on the military, then the sanctions are obviously not working. Malnutrition didn't exist in Iraq before the sanctions. If Saddam Hussein is building palaces, he intends to stay. Meanwhile, an entire nation is suffering. Hundreds are dying daily and millions are threatened in Iraq, because of US-compelled impoverishment.

If you want to support the children of Iraq, write to the addresses on the next page, and tell your leaders that you don't agree with the sanctions.

Every letter counts

Bill Richardson, US. Permanent Representative to the United Nations The Mission of the US to the UN 799 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA Tel: (212) 415-4404; fax: (212) 415-4443

President Bill Clinton, The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA Tel: (202) 456-2580; fax: (202) 456-2461 White House Comment Line: 202/456-1111 (1-1-0) e-mail: president@white-house.gov

The International Action Center is a volunteer activist organization. In its campaigns opposing US intervention, the Center relies totally on the donations and assistance of supporters around the country. To be part of a growing network, or to make a donation, request a speaker, or volunteer your support, contact the IAC.

International Action Center:

39 West 14th St., Suite 206, New York, NY 10011, USA (212) 633-6646; fax (212) 6633-2889 e-mail: npc@pipline.com

2498 Mission St., Room 28, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA (415) 821-6545; fax (415) 821-5782 e-mail: afreeman@igc.apc.org