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Friday December 18, 1:53 AM Former UN official in Iraq says bombing is "absolute tragedy" DUBLIN, Dec 17 (AFP) - Former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Dennis Halliday said Thursday US-British air strikes on Iraq were "an absolute tragedy" for the people of Iraq. Halliday resigned last September from his job overseeing the Iraqi oil-for-food programme in protest at the continuing sanctions. The 1996 oil-for-food deal allowed Iraq, under UN sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, to sell limited quantities of crude to buy humanitarian supplies. He said the bombing action had gone "way beyond" what the United Nations intended. Even if the entire civilian and military infrastructure was destroyed they could still continue to manufacture "appalling weapons," he said. The attacks were a "very short term solution with long term consequences," he said, adding he believed they could lead to the death of 10,000 additional Iraqis. "Further, it is going to strengthen the position of Saddam Hussein both within Iraq -- because the people will be obliged to rally around their leader when he is under attack -- and I think it will strengthen his hand in the whole Arab and Islamic part of the world. "It is a tragedy from any point of view," he told Irish radio. He said sanctions were responsible for the deaths 5,000 or 6,000 Iraqi children every month due to lack of adequate health care, basic drugs and malnutrition. "Apart from the death situation which is appalling in itself, we are running at malnutrition levels of over 30 percent of children under five years which puts Iraq back comparable to the very lowest of the least developed countries." Halliday said the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) for Iraqi disarmament had destroyed more Iraqi weapons in the last seven years than the Gulf War itself. "We are now looking for needles in haystacks sort of speak and this is an open ended problem." -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html