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Peter Hain, MP Foreign and Commonwealth Office Whitehall London SW1A 2AH 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 sources. 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 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 ***