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[IAC] AFSC Report on Iraq Sanctions (fwd)

The following, posted on a US list, may also be of interest here in the
UK.  Colin Rowat

=========Iraq Action Coalition ======== =======
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From: Peter Lems <>

For Immediate Release                   
December 16, 1999                                                  


A medical delegation to Iraq, sponsored by the American Friends Service
Committee (AFSC), has found that economic sanctions are undermining every
level of that country’s health care system and impeding access to
scientific journals for medical professionals. 


PHILADELPHIA, PA – A report by an AFSC-sponsored  medical delegation to
Iraq has found that UN-imposed economic sanctions have eroded the health
care systems in that country and have blocked access to new scientific and
medical information necessary to train health care professionals. The
report found that sanctions have virtually halted the delivery of books,
professional journals and computer technology into Iraq.

The AFSC delegation, which consisted of three pediatricians and three
public health professionals, visited six of Iraq’s 10 medical colleges and
interviewed 30 Iraqi physicians and academicians in preparing its report.

 "These restrictions, which are unprecedented in scope and longevity, have
seriously affected Iraqi health care and medical education that will affect
medical services and training for years to come," said Dr. Leila Richards,
a public health consultant and leader of the AFSC delegation.   She said
that the isolation of Iraqi health professionals and the restrictions on
scientific freedom brought on by the "intellectual embargo" have received
little or no attention by human rights and academic communities.

"Prohibiting  the transmission of scientific knowledge to another country
is unconscionable and, politically speaking, counterproductive," Richards
noted. "Cutting off medical information to Iraqi doctors not only has an
adverse effect on patient care, but isolates and punishes all Iraqis."

The report also contains a proposal for developing a social science
research committee to address the lack of social scientists in Iraq
available to address issues about life in Iraq today. 

Among the report’s findings is information about how the oil for food
program "does not address Iraq’s growing social problems, including
declining school enrollments, child labor and juvenile delinquency, and the
emigration and ‘deprofessionalization’ of millions of middle class Iraqis
-- problems that pose a growing threat to the future stability of the

The report notes additional non-material effects of sanctions contributing
to a decline in the quality of life for Iraqis.   These effects include a
severe reversal of once-modern hospitals that now resemble conditions found
in the world’s poorest countries.  Basic supplies such as clean bed linens,
hand towels, proper lighting in hospital  stairwells and hallways, oxygen
and bactericidal soap are lacking. 

"All the conditions needed for the spread of infectious disease are present
in hospital wards:  crowding, inadequate ventilation, faulty plumbing and
instruments that cannot be properly cleaned,"  the report states. 

Air pollution from aging cars and trucks and low grade fuel has contributed
to public health problems including a rise in emergency visits due to
asthma and other acute respiratory illnesses.   The degraded environment is
having an especially significant impact on the most vulnerable in Iraqi

"Infants and young children grow up in an environment in which they are
more likely to be ill, and chronic malnutrition will affect not only a
child’s health but his cognitive development," the report states.   

The report concludes with a series of recommendations urging the UN and its
member nations to address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and to develop
policies that would support Iraq’s right to economic self-determination. 

The AFSC believes that Iraq can achieve economic self-determination only
when the economic sanctions are lifted.

To obtain a copy of the report entitled Living Under Sanctions in Iraq: The
Oil For Food Program and The Intellectual Embargo, contact Paula Goldberg,
AFSC International Programs -- Middle East Region, 1501 Cherry Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19102 or by calling 215/241-7144 or e-mail
 Web address is


The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that
includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice,
peace, and humanitarian service.  Its work is based on the Quaker belief in
the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome
violence and injustice.

Peter Lems
Program Assistant for Iraq - Middle East Peace Education
        American Friends Service Committee
        1501 Cherry Street
        Philadelphia, PA. 19102
        Tel: 215/241-7170
        Fax: 215/241-7177

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