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Thanks to Drew Hamre for the NYT and Economist articles.
Iraqi child death rates soar
Iraqi doctors have warned that many more children will die of preventable diseases unless sanctions against the country are lifted. Unicef says that other factors, such as Baghdad's delay in distributing the aid supplies it is allowed to import under a food-for-oil deal, have contributed to the problems. To make matters worse, the social and physical infrastructure of Iraq is crumbling. The education system has been run down and figures show that children of educated mothers have a better chance of survival.
Sewers and water mains are not being maintained, which means that some children are falling victim to water-borne diseases that were virtually unheard of 10 years ago.
Some sewers have collapsed allowing raw sewage to soak through the earth and into cracks in drinking-water pipes. The report also says that Iraqis are not eating enough and estimates that 20% of Iraqi children under five suffer stunted growth caused by malnutrition. It adds that in the northern Kurdish areas, where the UN runs the relief operation, the number of child fatalities is decreasing. The report recommends that more money is needed for humanitarian aid. It says the Iraqi Government should do more to promote breast-feeding, and it says the Iraqis and the UN Sanctions Committee should try harder to bring in supplies which children need for survival. The UN agency says that sanctions may have been intended by the international community to promote peace and security, but its says they should not harm children.
Iraqis blame sanctions
for child deaths, by Middle East Correspondent Jeremy Bowen
Hospitals battle with inadequate equipment
In Iraq's hospitals and slums, and in the homes of many impoverished, once prosperous, families, it is easy to see the human suffering behind child mortality figures released by the United Nations Children's Fund. Unicef says that children under five in Iraq are dying at more than twice the rate they were 10 years ago. In Baghdad I saw three month old Elaf Kadhim lying close to death in the Saddam Children's Hospital, suffering from pneumonia, malnutrition and blood poisoning. The nurses had propped an oxygen mask, designed for somebody much bigger, over his face and were trying to keep the flies off him. His doctor, Ra'd Al-Janabi, said many more children would die if sanctions were not lifted. I suggested that it was more complicated than that - that sanctions were a highly political issue, based especially on the United States and Britain's opposition to Iraq's President Saddam Hussein. The doctor shrugged and said that was not his business, but the children were.
In his garden, Karim Kadhum sat with his surviving son, Mustafa, and a photo of Hussein, his youngest, who died after he developed a chest infection. Mr Kadhum said the first and last reason for his son's death was sanctions. He said Iraqis do not have enough medicine or food. In the house of the Mohammed family in Baghdad, I saw the month's official food ration - in a tin and a few sacks. This is paid for by allowing Iraq to export a strictly controlled amount of oil. The ration is made up of rice, pulses, cooking oil, sugar, salt, tea and dried milk. It is enough to stop it all getting much worse, but not enough to make it better. In the next room sat Naba Mohammed, 3, a pretty, tiny girl. Like 20% of Iraqi under-fives, her growth has been stunted by malnutrition. At least she is surviving. Unicef estimates that at least 500,000 children have died, who ordinarily would have lived.
UNICEF Releases Child Deaths Survey
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, August 12, 1999; 1:59 a.m. EDT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The first survey of child deaths in Iraq since the 1991 Persian Gulf War shows the death rate among children under 5 who live in government-controlled areas has doubled.
But the death rate among children in the autonomous north, where the United Nations runs a humanitarian relief operation, dropped significantly during the same period, the U.N. Children's Fund said in a report to be released today.
The findings show that Iraq is faced with an ongoing humanitarian emergency, according to Carol Bellamy, UNICEF's executive director. UNICEF recognizes that economic sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 are intended to promote peace and international security, Bellamy said.
``But our concern is that ... they should be designed and implemented in such a way as to avoid a negative impact on children,'' she said. UNICEF officials say a host of factors have influenced the child mortality rate, including the sanctions, two wars, a collapsed economy, and Baghdad's own response.
The survey is likely to inflame the ongoing debate in the U.N. Security Council over whether to ease the sanctions -- regardless of whether Iraq has fully complied with U.N. demands to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. The UNICEF findings back a trend that U.N. officials identified in a recent report: U.N. humanitarian relief operations were more effective in areas outside the control of President Saddam Hussein.
The survey found that in government-controlled central and southern Iraq -- home to 85 percent of the country's population -- children under age 5 are dying at more than twice the rate they were 10 years ago. Between 1984 and 1989, there were 56 deaths of children under 5 per 1,000 live births compared to 131 deaths per 1,000 live births from 1994 to 1999. UNICEF said this puts the child mortality rate in most of Iraq on a par with rates in Haiti and Pakistan.
By contrast, in the autonomous northern region, the mortality rate of children under 5 declined by over 20 percent -- from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births during the years 1989-94 to 72 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1994 and 1999. Bellamy also noted that Iraq's child mortality rate was on the decline in the 1980s. If that decline had continued in the 1990s, there would have been a half-million fewer deaths of children under 5 from 1991 to 1998.
UNICEF urged the international community to provide more money for humanitarian efforts in Iraq and called on the U.N. committee overseeing sanctions and the Iraqi government to give priority to directly improving the well-being of children. The survey also said the Iraqi government should implement nutrition programs, adopt a national policy promoting breast-feeding, and replace the baby formula in the current food rations with additional food for nursing mothers.
UNICEF surveyed nearly 24,000 randomly selected households in south and central Iraq between February and May, in cooperation with the Iraqi government, and 16,000 households in the north, in cooperation with local authorities. All interviewers were trained health workers. Bellamy said the surveys were reviewed by a panel of independent experts. UNICEF's chief statistician, Gareth Jones, said the margin of error was less than 5 percent.
In an effort to help ordinary Iraqis cope with sanctions, the United Nations has allowed Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil to buy food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid since 1996. In a two-year review of the oil-for-food program released in April, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said billions of dollars worth of food and medicine had been delivered, but the program cannot -- and was never meant to -- meet all the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. While the United Nations runs the relief operation in northern Iraq, it relies on the Iraqi government to implement the program in the central and southern regions.
Mortality Up Among Children In Iraq - Study: Rate Doubled Following
While public health clearly has deteriorated under the U.N. sanctions,
Bellamy said the Iraqi regime has aggravated the problem in several ways, such
as encouraging bottle-feeding of infants, which exposes them to impure water.
Benon Sevan, the head of the U.N.'s humanitarian relief program in Iraq, also
has raised concerns about the alleged hoarding of medical supplies and equipment
in government warehouses. And he has criticized the Iraqi regime for giving
contracts to unreliable
U.S. Won't Halt Patrols Over Iraq
Tuesday, August 10, 1999; 10:53 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. warplanes will not modify their patrols of no-fly zones in Iraq because of Wednesday's eclipse of the sun, the Pentagon said Tuesday. ``If the Iraqis don't want to be attacked, it's very easy for them to arrange that. They can simply not challenge allied planes flying in patrol of the no-fly zones,'' Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said. ``If they don't challenge the allied planes, the allied planes will not respond.'' He was asked at the Pentagon whether the military would suspend airstrikes to avoid hitting Iraqis who might be out in the open watching the eclipse, which includes Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan in its sweep.
U.S. warplanes have been striking Iraqi military sites or returning fire when provoked on the average of 15 times a month in the eight months since Operation Desert Fox, the last use of cruise missiles against Iraqi targets, Bacon said. He said the reprisal attacks are degrading Saddam Hussein's air defense systems ``slowly and systematically.'' He said the airstrikes have averaged about six a month in the southern no-fly zone and nine a month in the northern one.
U.S. warplanes struck at Iraqi military sites Tuesday in a second consecutive day of bombings in the northern zone, the Germany-based U.S. European Command said. Air Force F-15s and F-16s dropped precision-guided bombs on two separate communications facilities, north and northeast of Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, the command said in a statement. The statement said the sites were relaying radar information to anti-aircraft artillery units. The jets left the area safely, and damage to the Iraqi sites was being assessed, the statement said. Bacon also reported U.S. airstrikes Tuesday in the southern zone but provided no details. The official Iraqi News Agency said two people were injured in the attacks in northern Iraq and one was injured in the southern part of the country. The report said several more were injured and others killed when missiles struck near a church outside the northern city of Mosul.
U.S. and British planes patrol zones in north and south Iraq, set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Iraq's Kurdish and Shiite Muslim minorities. Iraqi forces have challenged allied planes in the zones since Dec. 28. Baghdad says the zones violate Iraqi sovereignty and international law.
Bacon also was asked whether the London-based Iraqi National Congress can expect U.S. protection if the anti-Saddam opposition group follows through on plans to hold regular meetings in northern Iraq.
``To the extent that our patrols in the northern no-fly zone prevent Saddam Hussein from moving military forces or equipment in the area, anybody meeting in northern Iraq would benefit from that,'' Bacon said. ``Other than that, there's no specific protection.'' The opposition group sought U.S. military protection to allow it to meet in northern Iraq.
High Oil Prices May Bring Windfall for Iraq
Iran Blames Iraq for POW Talks Breakdown
Tuesday, August 10, 1999. Arabia Online
The charge comes two days after Saddam made a provocative "Great Victory Day" speech marking the 11th anniversary of the war`s end in which he threatened to use force to resolve outstanding issues between the two nations. The hardline Jomhuri Eslami paper said Tuesday that the speech was "purely for internal politics. He is afraid the Iraqi people will revolt, so he takes every opportunity to show off his dictatorial power." Tehran and Baghdad have yet to sign a peace treaty following the bloody war, which left hundreds of thousands dead on both sides, and diplomatic relations between the two remain at the level of charge d`affaires.
The POW question remains one of the most sensitive issues and Najafi said that during the talks Baghdad presented a list of 2,952 Iraqis it said were still being held by Iran. He said he had given the Iraqi delegation the names of 2,922 Iranian POWs allegedly still in prison, although Baghdad has said it released all Iranian prisoners except 64 "criminals" it says took part in a 1991 uprising.
Iranian officials and the press lambasted Saddam after the speech, calling him a "pest" who has terrorized the Iraqi people and the Middle East. "He has wielded the sword with all the finesse of a blind drunkard," the Iran Daily said Monday, noting Saddam`s 1990 invasion of Kuwait which led to the Gulf War and 10 years of harsh UN sanctions that have crippled the nation. "What he has done to the Iraqi people themselves is a still unfolding story of some of the most brutal human behavior in the annals of history," it said. Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said the speech was "inspired by a feeling of failure and humiliation." In the speech Saddam said: "Despite all the appeals for peace by Iraq ... the slogans, drums and guns of aggression and war have persisted (from Iran)."