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NEWS - Red Cross: Life in Iraq 'desperate' because of sanctions

Red Cross: Life in Iraq 'desperate' because of sanctions
February 1, 2000

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Life in Iraq is increasingly desperate in spite
of an oil-for-food deal intended to ease the bite of U.N. sanctions, the
Red Cross said Tuesday. 

"After nine years of trade sanctions...the situation of the civilian
population is increasingly desperate. Deteriorating living conditions,
inflation, and low salaries make people's everyday lives a continuing
struggle," the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a report. 

The report said Iraq's children have paid a particularly high price since
sanctions were imposed in response to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Infant mortality has tripled and the death rate among children under five
is at least six times higher. 

"The weakest and most vulnerable who suffer from sanctions are young
children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases,"
the Red Cross said. 

Iraq blames the higher death rate on the sanctions, while the United
States, which has pushed to keep them in place, blames Baghdad. 

To cut the human cost of the sanctions, the United Nations developed the
oil-for-food programme, which allows Iraq to sell $5.26 billion worth of
oil over six months to buy food, medicine and other basic supplies. 

But the Red Cross report said the program had not done its job. "It has not
halted the collapse of the health system and the deterioration of water
supplies," the report said. 

Baghdad has repeatedly complained that most of its purchases have not
reached the country, blaming U.S. and British representatives at the U.N.
sanctions committee for delaying them. 

Baghdad has dismissed a U.N. Security Council resolution issued on December
17 which could ease sanctions if Iraq allows U.N. weapons inspectors to
resume their work in the country. 

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