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Ambulances in Baghdad...

Although it doesn't specifically concern ambulances, the following
information is unambiguous. I am sure you know these things already, but

Ambulances ARE among the items for Iraq which have been either
permanently vetoed by the UN Sanctions Committee, or subjected to
prolonged delays. Other items on this list (In: 'The Scourging of Iraq -
Sanctions, Law and Natural Justice'. Geoff Simons 1996, 1998, p.118)
include: blankets, PVC sheets, cleaning agents, rubber tubes, medical
swabs/gauze/syringes/journals, nasal gastric tubes, NO cylinders for
women in labour, canulas for intravenous drips, bandages, disposable
surgical gloves, oxygen tents, ECG monitors, stethoscopes, all
electrical equipment, dialysis equipment, etc etc. Paragraph F(20) of
Resolution 687 ['...the prohibitions against the sale or supply to Iraq
of commodities or products, other than medicine and health supplies, and
prohibitions against financial transactions related thereto, contained
in resolution 661 (1990), shall not apply to
materials and supplies essential for civilian needs...'] has had
"minimal practical consequences" as a result of sanctions procedures
relating to trade/imports. Geoff Simons argues that the exemption of
"supplies intended strictly for medical purposes" in resolution 661 has
been rendered meaningless by its very wording ("strictly for medical

On 16 February 1994 the BBC Middle east correspondent Tim Llewllyn said
"The claim by the Western governments that food and drugs flow freely
into Iraq is not true. I have seen telexes and documents that showed
clearly that the British and the American government interfered with the
flow of crucial drugs into Iraq. that is unquestionable." It is not
unlikely that the same approach has been applied regarding vehicles and
spare parts for the ambulance service, as was deployed in blocking the
movements of food and drugs, eg on 14th August 1993 an application from
Japan to supply communication links for hospital use (including
hospital-ambulance links) was vetoed by Britain.

A Note Verbale from Iraq to the UN Centre for Human Rights (Geneva) in
1995 stated: "The impact of the sanctions on the health care is very
serious and grave: 1) The capital constraint with reduced budget; 2)
Partial utilisation of the already squeezed budget of health care,
because of the blockade on the import which has led to serious shortage
in drugs and other life saving measures and medical equipment. Even a
number of shipments of medicines ordered and paid for prior to August
1990 has not been delivered;... 6) Delay(s) and misdiagnoses... because
of delayed attendance for consultations due to lack or very high cost of

An article I saw recently in the Guardian (Saturday November 21 1998)
said that "The report [on the food-for-oil deal] due to be presented to
the UN Security Council [on Monday 23 November] will say that... there
has been a substantial improvement in the food and medical situation.
The Guardian found that, while some medicines are available, the
situation is still desperate....In two children's hospitals, the Saddam
Hussein Children's Teaching Hospital and Anoor hospital, all doctors say
there are more drugs...but children are still dying because equipment is
obsolete and they cannot carry out basic procedures... blood for
transfusions is short because bags for blood are restricted under
sanctions... In a premature baby unit in a hospital on the outskirts of
Baghdad [the] main problem is oxygen supplies..."

Of what benefit is even the nominal permission to obtain an ambulance if
the articles necessary to equip and maintain it are prohibited by the
sanctions or subject to indefinite delays due to the impenetrably
convoluted bureaucratic procedures surrounding the "humanitarian"


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