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Important: WFP head in Iraq resigns!

Jutta Burghardt, head of the UN's World Food Program in Iraq, has tendered
her resignation, mere days after the protest-resignation of Humanitarian
Coordinator Hans von Sponeck.  AP reports that "... one of the diplomats
said that in (Ms.Burghardt's) letter to WFP headquarters in Rome she said
that she cannot continue in her job amid the widespread suffering she
attributes to U.N. sanctions."

I've attached a plea from Kathy Kelly and Jeff Guntzel which I enourage you
to take to heart.  This is indeed a "rare and important opportunity to write
and call your local newspaper" and press the case against sanctions.
Attached are two reports from Kathy and Jeff's group, Voices in the
Wilderness, and two news reports on Ms. Burghardt's resignation.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Voices in the Wilderness []
> Subject:      Third U.N. official in Iraq to resign in protest!
> Hello Friends--
> By now, most of you may have heard about the great success of yesterday's
> demonstration at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.  Between 250-300
> attended the demonstration and 86 were arrested and reporters from Time
> magazine, CNN, AP, Fox, ABC, and UPI were on hand to cover the events.
> Below you'll find links to the media coverage. 
> Many of the reports of the protest piggy-backed news that the top United
> Nations official in Iraq, Hans Von Sponeck, decided to resign.  Mr. von
> Sponeck is the second Humanitarian Cordinator in Iraq to resign in protest
> of the sanctions (Denis Halliday was the first).
> Now we have gotten word that Jutta Burghardt, the head of the U.N.'s World
> Food Program in Iraq has just resigned her post, also in protest.
> We are asking.....actually, begging you to take this rare and important
> opportunity to write and call your local newspaper editors or any
> reporters you think would write an article or op-ed about this story.
> Give them our office number (773-784-8065) and we can supply updated
> information on the resignations. Links to the AP and Reuters reports on
> the resignations are also listed below.
> Please help us assure that this story is not ignored.  Grass roots efforts
> helped publicize Dennis Halliday's resignation and enabled him to speak
> out against the sanctions across the US and Europe.  We're not sure how
> much speaking Mr. von Sponeck and Dr. Burghardt will be prepared to
> undertake, but it seems wise to encourage US Congresspeople to seek
> hearings and invite testimony from each of these courageous diplomats.
> Should you find that the links below aren't helpful, let us know and we'll
> send you the actual text of these any documents you can use.  Let us know
> also what successes you have.  
> Thank you and Good luck!
> Jeff Guntzel and Kathy Kelly, for Voices in the Wilderness
> Links:
> AP coverage of Monday's protests at the UN and von Sponeck's resognation:
> <>
> AP report on Hans von Sponeck from 1-13-99:
> <>
> Backround on Hans von Sponeck from our website:
> <>
> AP on the resignation of Jutta Burghardt of the WFP:
> <>
> Reuters on the Resignation of Jutta Burghardt of the WFP:
> <>
<<< Excerpt from VITW letter of February 9>>>

Report on the meeting with Toni Berry of the U.S. State Department's Iraq

The following is the report of Voices in the Wilderness' meeting at the
State Department in January 24.

On January 24, 2000, Ms. Toni Berry of the U.S. State Department's Iraq Desk
met for an hour and a half with three Voices in the Wilderness
representatives, Chris Allan-Doucot, Nick Arons, and Kathy Kelly.

We introduced ourselves as representative not only of Voices in the
Wilderness, but also of a growing network of concerned individuals and
groups opposed to the US/UN economic sanctions on Iraq, including the
National Council of Churches, National Council of Catholic Bishops,
Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,
Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi USA, the American Friends Service
Committee, Western Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, the
Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee,
Life for Relief and Development, the Council on Islamic Arab Relations, and
Conscience International,

Chris Doucot displayed a carefully organized notebook of photos showing
victims of both bombardment and sanctions. We told Ms. Berry that State
Department reports frequently contradict UN official reports as well as
evidence we've witnessed first hand regarding destruction caused by a war on
two fronts, economic warfare and bombardment.

Ms. Berry told us the history of the no-fly zones, asserting that the
patrols are meant to protect Iraqi people.  We pointed out that the families
of the 143 people who've been killed by these "patrols" would have
difficulty appreciating this protection.  She said that State Department
contacts 'on the ground' in Iraq say that Iraqi people want the no-fly zone
patrols and bombing to continue. We noted that not a single person with whom
we've met, in the course of 31 delegations, has asked that no-fly zones and
bombardment continue.  She didn't dispute that bombing no fly zones is a
violation of international law and that innocent people are killed.  Nor did
she dispute that it's unfair of the US State Department to deny that people
are being killed.  We showed her fragments of bomb parts which we collected
in July of 1999.

Regarding the effect of economic sanctions on Iraq's economy, Ms. Berry said
that if sanctions were lifted today, Iraq's government would not have any
more revenue to work with than that which it already could generate.  She
then raised concerns over what the government of Iraq would do with added
revenue, given the recent record of building palaces.  She said they have no
indication that Iraq would use added revenue to help its people.  We noted
that prior to the Gulf War, Iraq had developed an advanced means of meeting
the health, housing and education needs of its people.  As a sovereign
nation, Iraq has a right to decide for itself how it will spend revenue
raised from sales of its own resources.  We frequently referred to UN
briefings which we attended in Baghdad during which Mr.Hans von Sponeck
assured us that stockpiling of goods should not be attributed to malice on
the part of the Iraqi government but rather to problems caused by the
economic sanctions.  We summarized some of the ways in which imposition of
the sanctions interferes with efficient distribution of goods and also
pointed out several reasons why distribution in the north is more effective
than in the south-valid reasons based on important facts which are not
mentioned in the US State Department reports which assign all blame to the
Government of Iraq.  We noted that this information is crucial for a better
understanding of why Iraqi people suffer from severe shortages and asked why
the State Department chose not to include these facts in their August

We noted that on three separate occasions President Clinton, Secretary of
State Ms. Albright, and Defense Secretary William Cohen have stated that
sanctions will not be lifted until the current regime is removed from power.
We asked what incentive the Iraqi government would have to comply with UN
mandates if in fact the US has assured them that compliance will not result
in lifting the sanctions.

Ms. Berry stated that humanitarian concerns are "number one" in the US State
Department's view, but in concert with concern over containment of Saddam
Hussein.  She agreed that the role the US is playing is not good for the
country's image abroad.  She said they would prefer a situation in which
Iraqi people weren't suffering.  Chris  Doucot said that he believes US
people would approve a change in the policy.  Ms. Berry said that "Congress
would never go along with a change in policy that alleviates suffering as
long as Saddam Hussein is still in power."

We felt quite positive about introducing ourselves and our concerns to the
State Department through this meeting with Ms. Berry.  She listened
carefully to our grievances and clearly understood our conviction that these
grievances are ground in human decency, truth, and international law.  The
exchange encouraged us to seek public debates between representatives of the
US State Department and spokespeople who favor lifting the economic

The meeting with Ms.Berry suggests to us that the strategy advocated by
Phyllis Bennis in a recent response to Resolution 1284 makes sense: continue
pressing the media to challenge the current policy and continue efforts to
educate and persuade legislators as regards the lethal effects of economic
sanctions.  It's also important that we continue linking with human rights
groups.  Ms. Berry noted that other human rights groups and religious groups
have visited her and asked that sanctions be maintained.  We've recently met
with Mr. Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch and are meeting today with Kani
Xalam of the Kurdish Information Agency.  Along with listening to the
concerns of these groups, we'll urge them to write to, call, and visit with
State Department representatives to express concerns over the human rights
abuses caused by economic sanctions on Iraq. These letters, calls, and
visits are noted.


Tuesday February 15 1:47 PM ET 
Second U.N. Aide in Iraq Resigns in Protest
By Hassan Hafidh

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A second senior U.N. humanitarian official in Iraq has
resigned in protest at the failure of U.N. relief programs in Iraq, Western
diplomatic sources in Baghdad said Tuesday.

They said Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Program (WFP) in Iraq,
handed in her resignation Monday. She followed Hans von Sponeck, the top
U.N. official in Iraq, who said Monday he was quitting for the same reason.

In Rome, a WFP spokesman confirmed that Burghardt had resigned but said she
had taken the decision for personal reasons.

``It is a personal decision to leave and go back to work for the German
government,'' Francis Mwanza, spokesman for the U.N. world food body, told

The WFP is linked to the oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil
to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs for the Iraqi people.

The WFP also distributes food aid to nearly one million needy Iraqis
affected by the tough U.N. sanctions imposed on the country for its 1990
invasion of Kuwait.

Von Sponeck, whose resignation takes effect March 31, is in charge of the
U.N. oil program, which is intended to ease the impact of the sanctions on
the Iraqi people by ensuring supplies of essential goods.

The sources said Burghardt resigned because she felt the U.N. humanitarian
program in Iraq was a failure. She also opposed the latest Security Council
resolution offering to ease U.N. sanctions against Iraq if Baghdad allowed
disarmament monitors to return.

Baghdad has rejected the resolution, saying it is time to lift the crippling
economic sanctions imposed on the country in 1990 for its invasion of

Both von Sponeck and Burghardt are Germans. Von Sponeck, a career U.N.
official, has angered Britain and the United States by criticizing the
sanctions and saying the humanitarian program has failed to meet the needs
of Iraq's 22 million people.

Von Sponeck Says He Resigned For Personal Reasons

Von Sponeck said that he had resigned for personal reasons, not because of
pressure from Washington and London.

``It is certainly not because of pressure. I primarily think I must leave
now for personal reasons,'' von Sponeck told Reuters Tuesday.

``I hope that who ever replaces me would have a very short assignment
here,'' he said, meaning that he hoped that the sanctions would be lifted
and the program would be terminated.

He said that he had resigned because he could not remain silent on the
failings of the U.N. humanitarian program.

``I think time has come when I come out to say so and when I do that I must
be able to face the consequences...that I must then accept to leave the
position,'' he said.

Von Sponeck told Qatar-based al-Jazeerah satellite television that other
U.N. officials shared his views on the suffering of the Iraqi people.

``Well, everyone here in the U.N. is concerned over the inadequacy of the
performance of the oil-for-food program ... That is not just my view,'' he

``So I'm not at all alone in my view that we have reached a point where it
is no longer acceptable that we are keeping our mouths shut.

``Our support, my support, my commitment is for the Iraqi people as a group
of deprived people whose tragedy should end.''

Von Sponeck repeated earlier remarks that deprivation in Iraq was also
partly due to ``a tightly controlled state with many limitations.'' 

Tuesday February 15 12:30 PM ET 
U.N.'s Iraq Food Program Chief Quits
By WAIEL FALEH Associated Press Writer 

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The head of the U.N. World Food Program in Iraq has
quit to protest U.N. trade sanctions, European diplomats in Baghdad said

Jutta Burghart of Germany has administered the distribution of food supplies
in Iraq under the U.N.-approved oil-for-food deal since she assumed her post
in January 1999.

Several attempts by The Associated Press to reach Burghart for comment
failed, but one of the diplomats said that in her letter to WFP headquarters
in Rome she said that she cannot continue in her job amid the widespread
suffering she attributes to U.N. sanctions.

In Rome, WFP spokesman Francis Mwanza confirmed that Burghart had resigned,
but he said it was a ``personal decision to leave and go back to her
previous employer, the German government.'' He said her decision was not
made to protest the sanctions.

Burghart is the second high-ranking U.N. official in Iraq to quit in three
days. Iraq's chief Humanitarian coordinator, Hans Von Sponeck, quit over the
sanctions. His resignation was accepted Monday.

The resignations come at a time when the U.N. humanitarian program was
supposed to be improving following the decision by the Security Council in
December to try to get more aid to Iraqis faster.

While the United States has supported the new Iraq policy, it is wary of
implementing the changes before weapons inspections resume in Iraq.
Washington has held up contracts - mostly to rebuild Iraq's oil industry and
power plants - fearing such equipment could be used for military purposes.

Iraq's trade minister, Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, warned this weekend that
Baghdad will consider cutting back its oil output even further unless the
``holds'' on oil spare parts are lifted.

With world oil prices rising and supplies tight, a substantial cut in Iraqi
exports could push prices higher if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries continues to restrict its production.

Von Sponeck, a German diplomat, hasn't commented since he announced his
resignation Sunday. But diplomats in Baghdad and U.N. officials in New York
said the career U.N. civil servant found it too difficult to work under the

U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait barred Baghdad
from selling oil, its most precious commodity, on the open market. Under
U.N. resolutions, the sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors
determine that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated.

Von Sponeck is the second humanitarian coordinator to quit. Denis Halliday
resigned in 1998 after deciding he didn't want to be associated with the
sanctions any longer.

Iraq has vowed not to cooperate with the United Nations in implementing the
resolution and on Tuesday poured lavish praise on Von Sponeck.

``The United States acts as if the United Nations is one of its own states.
... Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday have refused to sell themselves to
America and have stood for the truth,'' the daily newspaper al-Iraq said in
a front-page editorial.

Von Sponeck's announcement came as protesters mounted a second day of
demonstrations Monday in New York to demand an end to the sanctions. More
than 100 people demonstrated on the front steps of the U.S. Mission to the
United Nations and 86 were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct
after they refused to leave.

``I think this is the worst case of child abuse today,'' said Bert Sacks,
58, a protester from Seattle who said he had traveled to Iraq a half-dozen
times bringing medicine to Iraqis in violation of the sanctions.

Such sentiments have caught the attention of lawmakers in Washington, 70 of
whom wrote to President Clinton last month urging that sanctions be lifted.
Some of the lawmakers scheduled a news conference on Wednesday to highlight
the cause. 

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