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American Friends Service Committee Press Release

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

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

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