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Denis Halliday interview

Brief excerpts from interview with Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian
coordinator in Iraq, in this fortnight's Middle East International (13
November), pp.6-7:
'The sanctions were failing in the purposes they were set up for back in
1990-01. They weren't leading to disarmament and, second, the cost of
sanctions was completely unacceptable - killing 6-7,000 children a month.
Sustaining a level of malnutrition of about 30% for children under 5 leads
to physical & mental problems. It's incompatible with the UN Charter, with
the Convention on Human Rights, with the Convention on the Rights of the
Child & probably with many other international agreements. I just found
that impossible to accept as the head of the UN in Iraq.'
'Inadequacy' of  oil-for-food: 'not remotely enough money for water,
sanitation, agriculture, electric power and so on... even doubling the
programme wouldn't have resolved the problem.'
Long discussion about the politics of Iraq, where he refers to the current
government as 'moderate', as opposed to the substantial hardline elements
in the country. 'Albright says that she cares more for the Iraqi people
than Saddam. I don't buy that. Before and during Resolution 986 the Iraqi
government was supplementing it quite extensively, feeding orphans, widows
and other single parents. In addition to 986, they're running an
extraordinarily effective programmme .. through some 50,000 different
agents to a country of about 18 million people. Our observers watch that
process from the border to the warehouse. It works, & we have no evidence
of any significant leakage. The system works because the Iraqis make it
work. To say that they don't care about their own people is just rubbish.'

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