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Copy of letter to Peter Hain

Peter Hain, MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

From: Dr. Eric Herring

                                                        29 September 1999

Dear Mr. Hain:

Sanctions on Iraq

I saw you on Newsnight on 22 September, and was very 
concerned about many of the claims you made during that 
programme. They were claims which the Foreign and 
Commonwealth Office has been making for quite some time 
despite repeated refutations from many independent and UN 

I would like to mention briefly just two here.

First, you drew a parallel with the case of South Africa 
(on which you were a wonderful campaigner). However, there 
are important differences, most notably that it is 
extremely unlikely that ordinary Iraqis are in favour of 
the sanctions, and the scale of suffering in Iraq due to 
the sanctions (partly due to the fact that the were 
accompanied by an economically devastating war) is 
dramatically higher.

Second, it is true that conditions in the north of Iraq 
which is UN-controlled are much better than the centre and 
south of the country where the programme is administered 
directly by the Iraqi government and monitored by the UN. 
The dispute is over what explains that contrast. Taking the 
standard FCO line, you attributed all of the suffering to 
Saddam Hussein and none to the sanctions. However, UNICEF 
explicitly rejects this: 

        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.

        Let me make it clear that I feel it to be perfectly 
plausible that someone as vile as Saddam Hussein would 
deliberately keep infant mortality rates high if he felt it 
would benefit him in any way. If there is any evidence of 
it, I am keen to see it.  In my view, the Iraqi people are 
being ground to pieces in the struggle between the US and 
Britain on the one hand and Saddam Hussein on the other. 
The UN consistently lambasts BOTH sides. To give a couple 
of examples from Kofi Annan in May 1999: ‘more can be done 
... to address the unacceptably high levels of child and 
maternal mortality, particularly in the south and centre of 
Iraq, through expedited implementation of targeted 
nutrition programmes and expeditious approval by the 
Security Council Committee of applications in water and 
sanitation and other key sectors such as health, which have 
a direct bearing on the unacceptably high malnutrition 
levels.’ Similarly Executive Director of the UN Ofifce of 
the Iraq Programme Benon Sevan complained to the Security 
Council in July 1999 that 'The improvement of the 
nutritional and health status of the Iraqi people through 
[a] multi-sectoral approach ... is being seriously affected 
as a result of [the] excessive number of holds placed on 
supplies and equipment for water, sanitation and 
electricity.' Just as we must not jump to (or rule out in 
advance) the conclusion that Iraq is deliberately keeping 
infant mortality high, so we must not jump to (or rule out 
in advance) the conclusion that those Security Council 
members responsible for the holds are deliberately keeping 
infant mortality high.

In addition to being briefed by the FCO, I strongly urge 
you to seek independent counsel on these matters. Please 
find enclosed a research paper which I hope will be of some 
value to you and which deals with many of these and other 
issues. I will be continuing to do research on the 
sanctions on Iraq in the next few years and would be happy 
to supply you with further material.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. 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

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