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Submitted: To the Editor The Washington Post February 24, 2000 Dear Sir/Madam, Howard Schneider's "Letter from Iraq; A Land in Limbo, Sinking ever lower" (February 23, 2000) paints a sobering picture of an Iraq drifting into third world conditions. Schneider talks about the "controversial estimates of 'excess deaths' attributable to the [sanctions]." Thus, Schneider terms the well-documented evidence of an increase in child mortality as "controversial," a term usually deployed to cast doubt. But not even the United States government has contested the findings of the 1999 UNICEF survey which found that 500,000 toddlers and infants have died because of the sanctions. Schneider also refers to the 'recurrence of diseases due to poor sanitation,' yet why does Schneider fail to mention that the "poor sanitation" is largely because the United States deliberately destroyed Iraq's civilian infrastructure, including water treatment and power plants, in complete violation of the laws of war and without any plausible military necessity? Furthermore, because of the sanctions, this critical infrastructure has not been restored. Hans Von Sponeck, the latest UN humanitarian programme coordinator in Baghdad to resign in protest at the human rights catastrophe created by sanctions, recently stated that the situation in Iraq is getting worse: "We have increasing evidence on many fronts. When you look at the mortality situation you could see there is a rising trend." (Reuters, February 17). Despite this evidence, Schneider, echoing the official US government line, asserts that some conditions in Iraq are "improving." The most critical indicators -- including health and education -- clearly are not. While Schneider does allow the reader to gauge some of the devastation caused to Iraq, he is careful to excise any suggestion that western governments have played a role in creating and perpetuating this situation, a role that was highlighted most recently by US House Minority Whip David Bonior, who described the sanctions as "infanticide masquerading as policy." Surely it is time to take the mask off once and for all. Ali Abunimah Rania Masri Coordinator, Iraq Action Coalition -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi