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CNN: American aid groups defy Iraq sanctions

American aid groups defy Iraqi sanctions 

April 5, 1999
Web posted at: 11:21 p.m. EDT (0321 GMT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Risking as much as 12 years in prison and
$500,000 in fines, doctors from two U.S.-based groups traveled to Iraq
on Monday and donated $50,000 worth of medicines and books. 

In a public show of defiance of U.N. sanctions, the items were
personally delivered to Baghdad University Medical School and hospitals
by the Chicago-based group Voices in the Wilderness and the
Seattle-based Physicians for Social Responsibility. 

Some 500,000 Iraqi children have died from malnutrition or lack of
medical attention since sanctions were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait
in 1990, according to the U.N. Children's Fund. 

"I am concerned that American taxpayers are paying for these sanctions
that are killing the people of Iraq," said Physicians for Social
Responsibility member Gerri Haynes. She was joined by other American
doctors, as well as colleagues from Canada and Australia. 

Badly needed supplies 

Ali Muhsen, a fifth-year medical student, had been using text books made
10 years ago. The U.N. sanctions prohibit the import of educational
materials, including medical textbooks. 

An international delegation of doctors and nurses broke the U.N.
sanctions on Iraq by bringing in medicine and textbooks   

"Once I came across a textbook that was published in 1997," he said. "I
felt like eating it." 

The physicians' group, which includes nurses, medical students and human
rights activists, also donated $28,000 worth of antibiotics to the

"The de facto withholding of medicines and food from a population for
political reasons is contrary to all medical and humanitarian ethics and
is a totally unacceptable violation of human rights," said Dr. Sue
Wareham, an Australian. 

Airstrikes continue 

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said Monday that U.S. and British missiles
Sunday destroyed a communications system that controls the flow of oil
from the Bazergan oil field 230 miles (370 km) southeast of Iraq to the
port of al-Bakr. 

Iraq, which uses al-Bakr to export about 45 percent of its oil under the
U.N. oil-for-food program, sent a letter of protest to U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan. 

Oil ministry officials said communications were shifted to another
facility and the flow of oil was not disturbed because the pipeline
itself was not hit. 

U.S. officials said Sunday that Western planes attacked a surface-to-air
battery and two communications centers in response to Iraqi violations
of the southern no-fly zone. 

Correspondent Rula Amin and The Associated Press contributed to this
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