The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

MERIP: The Impact of Sanctions in Iraq

This article is from the Spring 1998 issue of the Middle East Report,
the magazine of the Washington-based Middle East Research and
Information Project. They have a whole section dedicated to Iraq
[] which has some interesting articles
from past years e.g. Roger Normand on Iraqi sanctions, human rights and
humanitarian law (Summer 1996 issue).

Facts & Figures
The Impact of Sanctions in Iraq
Population: 18.1 million (1989);  21.2 million (1997)
GDP/capita: $2840 (1989); $200 (1997) 
Birth Rate (annual average): 40.3/1000 (1985-90); 38.4/1000 (1990-95)
Death rate: 7.2/1000 (1985-09); 10.4/1000 (1990-95)
Annual growth rate: 3.3% (1985-90); 2.8% (1990-95)
Total Fertility Rate (average births per woman): 6.15 (1985-90); 5.70
Infant mortality rate (deaths to children less than one year of age/1000
live births): 80(1989-90); 160 (1994-95)
Child mortality rate (deaths to children less than five years of
age/1000 births): 40 (1985-90); 198 (1990-95)
While the accuracy of statistics demonstrating the impact of United
Nations sanctions on Iraq cannot be fully determined, there is no
question that their impact has been severe. Infant mortality has doubled
from the pre-sanctions era, with the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) reporting a fivefold increase in mortality among children under
age five. While the latter figure may be overstated,6 the health and
nutritional profile of young children remains very poor, with an
estimated 30 percent of children suffering from chronic or acute
malnutrition,7 Kwashiorkor and marasmus--symptoms of severe protein
deficiency and usually seen only in famines--are increasingly common. In
explaining this situation, diverse sources point to a combination of
"poor nutrition and increased prevalence of disease--compounded by
inadequate health services"8--this in a country where, prior to the Gulf
War, more than 90 percent of the population had access to primary health
care. Maternal mortality is also believed to have increased several
times since 1991, although hard data are not available.9 

Other statistics reflecting the impact of the sanctions include a
two-thirds decrease in the number of calories per capita supplied by
government food rations; a 12-fold increase in the incidence of typhoid;
and a 90 percent drop in per capita income (GDP/capita). According to
the World Health Organization (WHO), "The vast majority of the country's
population has been on a semi-starvation diet for years."10

Prior to the imposition of sanctions, Iraq imported some 70 percent of
its food. Under the sanctions regime, the government attempted to
increase agricultural production, but productivity has been limited by
the lack of inputs (machinery, pesticides, water), as well as by
increasing soil salinity. An FAO Mission to Iraq in the summer of 1997
found that 25 percent of young men and 16 percent of young women show
signs of chronic energy deficiency, reflecting the reduced availability
of food over the past seven years.11 This report also cited a number of
nutrients missing from present-day diets in Iraq, vitamins A and C most
notable among them. Before sanctions, 93 percent of urban and 70 percent
of rural residents had access to potable water. Currently more than half
of rural residents do not have access to clean water. Studies by UNICEF
(1994) and WHO (1996) cited bacterial contamination in at least 30
percent of samples tested--also partly to blame for the increases in
disease and mortality in the country.

--Compiled by Pamela Ording-Beecroft and Sally Ethelston

1 Population Reference Bureau, World Population Data Sheet (Washington,
DC: Population Reference Bureau, 1989, 1997).
2 Peter Boone, Harris Gazdar and Athar Hussain, Sanctions Against Iraq:
Costs of Failure (New York: Center for Economic and Social Rights
[CESR], 1997), p. 12.
3 Data on birth rates, death rates, growth rates and fertility rates are
from World Population Prospects: The 1996 Revision Annex II & III (New
York: DESIPA/United Nations Population Division, 1996), p. 234.
4 The Lancet 346 December 2, 1995, p. 1485. Letter from Sarah Zaidi
(CESR), Marcy C. Smith Fawzi (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston).
5 Ibid.
6 The Lancet 350, October 11, 1997, p. 1105. Letter from Sarah Zaidi,
7 John Lancaster and Nora Boustany, "Iraqis Bask Cautiously in Spotlight
Drawn by Annan's Visit," The Washington Post, March 1, 1998, p. A25.
8 Unsanctioned Suffering: A Human Rights Assessment of United Nations
Sanctions on Iraq (New York: CESR, 1996), p. 10.
9 The Health Conditions of the Population in Iraq Since the Gulf Crisis
(Geneva: WHO, March 1996), p. 8.
10 Ibid., p. 16.
11 "Special Report: FAO/WFP Food Supply and Nutrition Assessment Mission
to Iraq" (Rome: FAO, 1997), p. 10.

This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To be removed/added, email, NOT the
whole list. Archived at

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]