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Halliday on bombings

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

He said the bombing action had gone "way beyond" what the United Nations

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

"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

Halliday said the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) for Iraqi disarmament had
destroyed more Iraqi weapons in the last seven years than the Gulf War

"We are now looking for needles in haystacks sort of speak and this is an
open ended problem."

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