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For those of you who saw Newsnight last night: Claudia Milne BBC Newsnight Dear Ms. Milne. I am a lecturer in international politics at the University of Bristol engaged in research on the UN Security Council sanctions on Iraq. I have done various pieces on work for Newsnight on international crises over the years. I saw the item last night on the UN Security Council sanctions on Iraq, and I was very concerned by a number of demonstrable, important and I am sure unintentionally misleading inaccuracies in the report of your Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban which were wholly in line with the Foreign Office position and which are contradicted by the UN documents on which they are supposed to be based. Let me indicate just one of these: Urban: ‘powerful evidence from one of its [the UN’s] own organisations [UNICEF], showing how Iraq may have been sacrificing its own people for propaganda ... the UN has brought a small improvement. But, where Saddam rules, children die in increasing numbers, something those running the UN programme can hint at, but never bluntly say’. My response: The British government has made the most of the contrasts between the north of Iraq which is UN-controlled and the centre and south of the country where the programme is administered directly by the Iraqi government and monitored by the UN. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said of northern Iraq that 'it is no accident that the people are hugely better off ... The contrast with the rest of the country could not be starker’. UNICEF calculated that the mortality rate among children under five in the north fell between 1979 and 1989, rose until 1994, and then fell again until 1999 (to below the rate for 1979 to 1989). In contrast, it calculated for the centre and south of Iraq fell during the 1980s but rose catastrophically during the 1990s to result in around 500,000 excess deaths among children under five. All reports confirm the contrast: the narrative at issue here is what explains that contrast. The Foreign Office presents it as proof that the deaths are caused not by the sanctions but by Saddam Hussein alone. Those running the UN programme DO bluntly point out the contrast, and bluntly contest the claim that the contrast is due to a deliberate attempt by Saddam Hussein to keep child mortality high. According to UNICEF: ‘the difference in the current rate [of child mortality] cannot be attributed to the differing ways the Oil-for-Food Program is implemented in the two parts of Iraq. The Oil-for-Food Program is two and a half years old. Therefore it is too soon to measure any significant impact of the Oil-for-Food Program on child mortality over the five year period of 1994-1999 as reported in these surveys.’ Caroline Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, says there are a number of reasons for the difference - sanctions have been more easy to evade in the north, agriculture is easier there, and it has been receiving aid for a much longer period. Indeed aid began arriving in the north in 1991 whereas it began to arrive in the rest of the country only in 1997, and in large quantities only from the spring of 1998. In addition, according to Richard Garfield, a Columbia University epidemiologist who has studied the effects of the sanctions on Iraq, the north gets 22 per cent more per capita from the oil sales programme; gets 10 per cent of the funds raised in cash (unlike the centre and south which gets only commodities); and gets aid from 34 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) compared to eleven in the centre and south. On this basis, the narrative that the difference is caused by harsher sanctions rather than harsher Saddam is much more plausible. I would be happy to supply you with the fully referenced research on which my statements are based and to supply you with further research in future when you plan to cover this issue again. Yours sincerely, Eric Herring ---------------------- Dr. Eric Herring Department of Politics University of Bristol 10 Priory Road Bristol BS8 1TU England, UK Tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582 Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133 http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Politics firstname.lastname@example.org -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***