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humanitarian aid "only band-aid stuff."

>From The Independent. 23rd July 1998.

UN official quits in row over aid to Iraq

By Patrick Cockburn 

A row over aid to Iraq has led to the resignation of the senior UN
official in Baghdad in charge of humanitarian relief, who has become a
vocal critic of UN sanctions. 

Denis Halliday, 57, the Irish-born UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq,
is reported to have resigned because of differences with the UN
headquarters in New York over relief for Iraq. He is said to have clashed
with Benon Sevan, executive director of the UN aid programme for Iraq. 

Mr Halliday made no secret of his belief that sanctions were causing
untold suffering to 23 million Iraqis and should be ended. In a recent
interview with The Independent in Baghdad he said Iraq's infrastructure
was collapsing and it would take 10 to 20 years to restore it. He said the
obvious response was "to lift sanctions and pump in money" and
humanitarian aid was "only band-aid stuff." 

Appointed last August, Mr Halliday gave a new urgency the UN mission in
Iraq. In December he criticised Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, for
not asking more forcefully for improved aid programmes. He also objected
to the long delays in getting permission from the UN Sanctions Committee
to bringing items into Iraq. In the past it has held up spare parts for
ambulances because they might be used by the Iraqi army. 

Mr Halliday says children are being permanently damaged by malnutrition
and protein deficiency. He said the official ration works properly "for
three weeks out of four". He wanted to give each Iraqi a kilogram of
cheese every month to improve their diet, but New York balked at the total
cost of $900 million every six months. 

Aside from inadequate food supplies, Iraqis suffer from the collapse of
their economic infrastructure. Mr Halliday said: "Electric power is 40 per
cent of what it used to be". This meant that in the flat Mesopotamian
plain drinking water could not be pumped, leading to an increase in infant
mortality. Generating equipment is so old that spare parts are no longer
available. Only $300m was available and $10bn was needed for new power

Iraqi agriculture is also short of pesticides, fertiliser and machinery.
The UN Sanctions Committee would not allow in helicopters, as they could
possibly be used for military purposes. 

In charge of a much expanded UN relief operation in the wake of the
oil-for-food agreement signed with Iraq in 1996 under Security Council
Resolution 986, Mr Halliday was appalled by the poverty he discovered. 

He said: "You go to schools where there are no desks. Kids sit on the
floor in rooms which are very hot in summer and freezing in winter." 




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