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CASI Press release: Support for smarter sanctions on Iraq could save 5,000 lives a month

For the past few weeks CASI has been attempting to respond more quickly to
media events concerning Iraq.  We are still ironing the bugs out of this
system but were able to release the following press release to the UK
national papers, TV stations and radio stations.


A Cambridge-based student group, the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq,
has welcomed the government's announcement of plans for ``smarter
sanctions''. The announcement came as a written answer to a parliamentary
question on Monday.

``This is a great step forward'', claimed Colin Rowat, the campaign's
coordinator. ``Since coming to power this government has refused to
recognise that there has been anything wrong with the sanctions that it
supports against Iraq''.  Sanctions against Iraq were extended after its
expulsion from Kuwait in 1991 to force compliance with a weapons
inspection regime designed to last 90 days. Unicef, reporting last year on
the effects of their eight year duration, found that a third of the child
population is malnourished and that Iraqi hospitals report 5,000 more
deaths monthly than they did a decade ago. ``Morally and practically it is
irrelevant if Iraqis are dying because Saddam abuses the sanctions or
because the sanctions themselves kill'', argued Rowat. 

``As the UN panel on humanitarian issues in Iraq is due to report next
month this new thinking can start saving lives very quickly'', explained
Rowat. His group is most hopeful about the French proposal made last
month. ``While keeping its eyes firmly on preventing Iraqi rearmament it,
by removing restrictions on all but military and dual-use goods, seems the
most able to allow ordinary Iraqis to rebuild their lives''. 

An American counter-proposal lifts the cap on oil sales that Iraq is
allowed to make, a hollow gesture as low oil prices prevent Iraq from
reaching the current cap. It seems to prefer keeping the Sanctions
Committee, the secrecy of whose decisions has been used by veto-holders on
the Security Council to block humanitarian imports for political reasons. 


Original story: ``Cook urges `smarter' sanctions'', Financial Times, 16
March, 1999.
For the Unicef figures see: April, 1998. Unicef. ``Situation Analysis of
Women and Children in Iraq - 1997''.
For more information on the French proposal see the Financial Times, 18
January, 1999.
For reference to the Sanctions Committee's blocking of humanitarian
contracts see: 22 February, 1999. United Nations.  S/1998/187 [sic;
S/1999/187?]. ``Report of the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 6 of
Security Council Resolution 1210 (1998)''.


Colin Rowat
Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq

King's College                                                 
Cambridge CB2 1ST                       tel: +44 (0)468 056 984
England                                 fax: +44 (0)1223 335 219

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