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For Immediate Release Contact: Peter Lems February 18, 2000 215 241-7170 Resignation of Humanitarian Officials in Iraq Highlight Failures of the Sanctions Policy PHILADELPHIA, PA - When Hans von Sponeck, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq resigned on 13 February, he sounded a wake-up call to the world that a humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Iraq. But he is not alone. He is the second Baghdad-based Assistant Secretary General to resign: a powerful repudiation of the UN's sanctions policy and the oil-for-food program. His predecessor Denis Halliday resigned in 1998. On the day following von Sponeck's resignation, Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Program (WFP) in Iraq also resigned her post. Her resignation further highlights the frustration of the humanitarian community. The World Food Program is the United Nations agency that directly distributes food to the 3 million Iraqis living in the north. The project in Iraq represent the largest WFP program in the world. It operates within the oil-for-food program that allows Iraq to sell oil to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people. The program is governed by tough U.N. sanctions imposed on the country since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The principled position taken by these career United Nations civil servants illustrates the failure of the Security Council to address the humanitarian disaster in Iraq. The oil-for-food program has been a failure. Instead of lifting the sanctions, the new resolution passed by the Security Council in December may ease the sanctions only after new weapons inspectors are satisfied with their visits to the country. In the views of these two officials the new resolution is hopelessly inadequate, and will do little to reverse the deprivations caused by the sanctions. According to Kathy Bergen, Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Building Unit at AFSC, "the US gains nothing by standing by a failed policy. It should now move toward the rapid lifting of the economic sanctions while working for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. As the principal supplier of arms to the Middle East, the US must end its policy of transferring arms to the Middle East and elsewhere." "The loss of life inflicted on ordinary Iraqis by the sanctions is incompatible with the United Nations Charter," says Denis Halliday former Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq who resigned in October 1998 to protest the continued use of sanctions. "The continuation of these sanctions in full knowledge of their deadly consequences constitutes genocide." AFSC applauds Hans von Sponeck's statement upon his resignation: "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." We respect those willing to take a principled position on the calamitous misuse of sanctions in Iraq. ### The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization which includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the 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 http://www.afsc.org/iraqhome.htm -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi