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http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/low/english/world/middle_east/newsid_675000/675482.stm Monday, 13 March, 2000, 05:02 GMT BBC News Annan fears for Iraq's health UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan is to recommend an easing of restrictions on imports into Iraq because of their impact on the already tottering health care system. He also calls on Iraq to improve its delivery of drugs, in a report due out later this week, which has been seen by the BBC. Mr Annan expresses serious concern about the state of the health care system in Iraq. His report covers the UN's humanitarian programme in Iraq, under which Baghdad is allowed to sell oil in exchange for food and medical supplies. He says the erratic and un-coordinated arrival of drugs to treat chronic diseases may have contributed to increasing deaths among patients suffering from diabetes, heart, liver and kidney disease. Delays in the arrival of vaccines have interrupted the country's immunisation campaigns, he adds. His report recommends that UN Security Council members should allow in some of the imports they have placed on hold. Such restrictions, mostly the work of the United States or the United Kingdom, have been placed on $1.5bn worth of goods, of which $150m are medical supplies. Internal dissent The UN has come under severe criticism recently over policy towards Iraq. The co-ordinator of its own humanitarian programme in Iraq resigned last month in protest over the impact of UN sanctions on Iraqi civilians. Mr Annan will get a chance to discuss his concerns with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair during talks in London on Monday. MP's mission to Iraq Mr Annan's report came to light as UK MP George Galloway left for Jordan, on the first stage of a journey intended to take children's medicines to Iraq. Mr Galloway had originally intended to fly direct from London to Baghdad on Saturday in what would have been the first direct aid flight from the West to Iraq in a decade. But his journey was postponed after the UK Government referred his mission to the UN sanctions committee. The MP will now travel the 1,000km (600 miles) from Amman to Baghdad in a road convoy. 'Survival at risk' Earlier this month, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that the very survival of the Iraqi people was under threat following two wars and 10 years of sanctions. An ICRC report said Iraq's collapsed health facilities and badly damaged water sanitation system posed the gravest dangers. The US says the Iraqi Government is responsible for the country's misery because it had not complied with terms for lifting sanctions, and also blames the authorities in Baghdad for not distributing the medicines which they have. But a BBC correspondent has said the US appears now to be considering greater flexibility on Iraqi import requests. Sanctions The UN imposed sanctions on Iraq following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing war. Certain humanitarian supplies are allowed into Iraq, but the UN is concerned to keep out anything which could potentially be used in the manufacture of weapons - including vaccines which some say could be used to make biological weapons. Critics of sanctions say the UN criteria are too harsh, and are preventing the import of materials which have no sinister purposes. The US and UK have carried out repeated bombing raids on Iraq since Baghdad refused to co-operated with UN weapons inspectors in 1998. In the latest raid, at the weekend, Iraqi officials reported that eight people had been injured during attacks on civilian installations in the south of the country. There was no word from American or British officials. ===== -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi