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I seem to be having problems with my e mail. Sorry if I have sent this more than once. I wrote the following to the editor of the National Geographic.(I have my doubts that it will make any difference but I wrote it anway.) ---------------------------------------------------------------- Dear Mr. Allen, Please forgive me for not being the best writer. But the following comes from the heart and it is not meant as a vindictive or mean spirited letter. I was in Iraq in April of this year. I was very fortunate, (as have many groups), to participate in interviews with people at the UN in Baghdad as well as the Red Cross, and UNICEF. I toured the hospitals, university, and art center, bomb shelters and talked to many of the ordinary people in Iraq. The photographs by Michael Yamashita were excellent. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the article by Mike Edwards was flawed and did not give a "fair" picture of the hardships facing the Iraqi people. If we are to help them, we must understand who also shares the blame for this human tragedy. Mr. Edwards talks about how the Iraqi government caused delays for over a year by not accepting the oil for food deal. What your readers don't get from the article is how tiny the original offer was. No country in the world would have accepted that offer. Take a quick look at the numbers. The most petroleum that Iraq has been able to export in any 6 month period, until recently, when oil prices jumped up, was $3 billion for 6 months. So, 65% (The rest taken for war reparations and UN expenses for running the program) of $3 billion is $1.95 billion for Iraq's 22 million people or $88.65 each for 6 months, or 49 cents/day. (The original offer was much less!). Mr. Edwards leaves the impression that there is adequate food and medicine and that no one should starve and yet when you look at the above amount of money that has to buy food and medicines, repair a battered infrastructure, educate the people, etc. etc., it is clear that it is impossible to provide the basic human needs. UNICEF and numerous other reports have pointed this out over and over again for years. That is why we see such huge numbers of deaths in Iraq. Also Mr. Edwards flip statement about "Pumps sitting idle in Government warehouses". I'm afraid that once again your readers are misled by Mr. Edwards lazy journalism. The people at the UN and UNICEF in Baghdad all wanted to address this issue when I met with them. They gave a number of reasons for this happening. Many parts are shipped to Iraq with missing components. The UN's, office of the Iraq Programme, Executive Director, Benon Sevan, has issued his concern over the increasing numbers of holds being placed on contracts. He and many others have talked about this problem of items sitting useless in Iraqi warehouses until the interrelated or complimentary part is shipped. There are other problems such as medicine being kept in warehouses with generators because of regular electrical outages and if it were shipped in trucks it would spoil. Also a long list of problems such as the lack of computers to communicate, no skilled workers, etc. etc. If Mr. Edwards had taken the time to do more research he would have found this out. Instead we have a respected magazine such as the National Geographic painting a picture that distorts the truth and leaving the reader with the impression that the Iraqi government is the main cause of the peoples hardship. The bottom line is that we find ourselves justifying our river of blood because of another leaders river of blood. The numbers of deaths are staggering. We have built a wall around this country and let the children die. That is why I went to Iraq and did a simple art project on the grounds of the Al Rasheed Hotel. It shows a child and the drawing is made of piles of stones to form a line drawing in the large field. I had two days to do this project so it was kept simple. I dedicated the project to the rights of the children of Iraq, whose rights, guaranteed under international law, have been ignored. I have also done recent paintings that look at the sanctions and what we have done to these children. I feel that Mr. Edwards' article has contributed to the ignorance the west has of this nightmare for the Iraqi people. The world is now a very dangerous place and I have discovered something that I never knew before. We haven't a hope of surviving as a species. For whatever reasons, there is so much hatred and misunderstanding allowed to proliferate in this world. Even the National Geographic can't get the story right. Sincerely, Deryk Houston. -------------------------------------------- Can anyone answer me this. Where does it say that children's rights to clean water, education, food and medicine,etc etc are guarenteed under international law - unless they have a leader who is a bastard. My Canadian government, along with many others, interpret international law this way.They are now applying this wisdom to Yugoslavia as well as Iraq. I find it astonishing that there isn't more of an outcry. Every day I feel that I am living inside a sequel to Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" (The witches of Salem). Deryk Houston email@example.com Victoria, B.C. Canada -- voice: (250) 598-9908 Web Page http://coastnet.com/dhouston/ -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. 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