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---------------------- Envoyée par Amir Khadir/CHLG/Reg14/SSSS le 21/04/2000 13:12 --------------------------- "Robinson, Svend - M.P." <Robinson.S@parl.gc.ca> le 20/04/2000 14:55:19 Pour : Amir Khadir/CHLG/Reg14/SSSS cc : Objet : Traduction en anglais du rapport Amir, Voici la traduction du rapport de la délégation. Si tu as des questions - tu peux rejoindre Steve au 613-996-5599 ou par courriel au email@example.com (c'est un zero après "robins"). Je l'attache, mais je l'inclu dans le corps de ce message aussi. (au cas où la version de Word que vous utilisé n'est pas le même - nous utilisons Word 97) Bonne journée et bonne fin de semaine ! Éric Hébert Adjoint du député Svend Robinson ____________________________ (quote from Denis Halliday) IRAQ SANCTIONS THAT KILL REPORT BY THE OBSERVER MISSION TO IRAQ JANUARY 4 - 15, 2000 ORGANIZED BY OBJECTION DE CONSCIENCE/VOICES OF CONSCIENCE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Our sincere thanks go to everyone who made this observer mission possible. We would particularly like to thank the organizations, individuals, parents and friends who contributed to the fundraising campaign to send our delegation to Iraq. We would also like to thank those who directly contributed to the humanitarian assistance fund or who either bought tickets for the benefit gala or were among the many who performed for free on that occasion. The photos that are interspersed throughout the report were taken by photographer Josée Lambert, who travelled with us as a delegation member. We very much appreciate her gift of the photos that illustrate the report. We are also grateful to the American group, Voices in the Wilderness, for its valuable, whole-hearted collaboration both before and during the trip to Iraq. Finally, we must not forget to acknowledge our Iraqi hosts who warmly welcomed us, housed us in their own homes and were generally most hospitable. This report is also a tribute to them. This report was coordinated and produced, on behalf of Objection de conscience/Voices of Conscience by Rashad Antonius and Raymond Legault, with contributions from several mission members, each of whom wrote sections on topics they were specially qualified to cover. Permission is granted to reproduce this report, either in whole or in part, provided that the source is clearly indicated. However, the photos in the report belong to Josée Lambert, and it is therefore strictly forbidden, without her written consent, to use them for any other purpose than to reproduce this report. © Objection de conscience/Voices of Conscience OCVC, 8166 Henri-Julien, Montreal H2P 2J2 Tel. (514) 858-7584 firstname.lastname@example.org TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION ............................................................................ ...... 2 PREFACE ............................................................................ ................ 3 I. THE MISSION ............................................................................ ....... 4 II. THE HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND .. 7 III. THE EFFECT OF SANCTIONS ON IRAQ'S ECONOMY AND INSTITUTIONS 13 IV. EDUCATION................................................................... ............... 16 V. HEALTH...................................................................... .................... 18 VI. THE SITUATION OF IRAQI WOMEN................................................... 25 VII. THE CULTURAL DIMENSION.......................................................... 25 VIII. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND THE NGOs......................... 27 IX. THE "OIL FOR FOOD" PROGRAM...................................................... 28 X. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS........................................ 34 XI. REFERENCES.................................................................. .............. 37 INTRODUCTION As a project initiated by the Quebec group, OCVC (Objection de conscience/Voices of Conscience), our delegation visited Iraq from January 5 to 14, 2000. The purpose of the mission was to observe how the sanctions imposed on Iraq have affected the civilian population. (For a list of delegation members, see chapter 1.) This report represents the gist of our observations and conclusions. It also includes background information on the historical, political, social and religious context in order to facilitate a better understanding of the issues involved. The report is based, in part, on our personal observations, as well as on testimony from both ordinary Iraqis and other people we met who had more expert comments to make. However, since we only directly experienced the situation for some ten days, this was not sufficient time to grasp the overall impact of the bombings and sanctions. Our report is therefore also based, to a large extent, on information taken from several official documents published by international organizations. We studied some these documents before our trip and others during our stay in Iraq. A list of these reports is included as an appendix. It should be noted, in conclusion, that, just as we worked both individually and collectively in preparing and carrying out the mission, this report too is the outcome of both individual and collective contributions. Although the final version has been endorsed by the delegation as a whole, individual authors wrote the various specific sections. We naturally recognize that each of these authors is entitled to benefit personally from having their individual work reproduced or used in other publications. PREFACE I would first like to pay tribute to Objection de conscience for its role in initiating this project. Despite the group's lack of infrastructure and financial resources, it succeeded in mobilizing various other organizations as its partners. They then carried out the first humanitarian mission to Iraq from Quebec and other parts of Canada in the last nine years. For these last nine years, the Iraqi people have been suffering from a criminal international embargo that is supported by the Canadian government and, often unwittingly, by the Canadian people. The Objection de conscience initiative is a concrete example of the role that "civil society," as it is commonly called, can play in bringing about social justice on the international scene. The members of the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI) are an integral part of this civil society. They have been working for years to bring about a fairer world, based on human development values. In quest of these noble ideals, we can count on the voluntary commitment of tens of thousands of citizens who are involved, in one way or another, with the various organizations that make up AQOCI or with other organizations of civil society. This, in itself, is a great wealth underlying what we do. However, as everyone knows, if you want to do things, you have to have money, and that is why we are also appealing for both donations from the general public and financial support from our governments. However, government funding, valuable as it is, still has pitfalls, particularly in the way it can influence us to act in ways that are consistent with its foreign policy, even though we do not support such policy. This is where civic responsibility comes into its own. We are duty-bound to bear witness to what we know - that thousands of human lives are in danger. The embargo is solely responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Iraq each year. We do not have the right to remain silent, and we are therefore grateful to Objection de conscience for reminding us of our duty in this critical situation. The embargo on Iraq has to be lifted as soon as possible. That is why I want to pay tribute to the exemplary work accomplished by those who took part in this "mercy mission." Since they came back, they have succeeded, despite their many obligations, in not only helping to prepare this report, but also in speaking about the tragedy they observed at every possible opportunity. Their efforts and perseverance should encourage us to pursue our campaign to mobilize the Canadian people on this issue: together, we have to exert sufficient pressure on the Canadian government so that it finally withdraws its support for such a murderous embargo and decides, instead, to invest reources in rebuilding Iraq and restoring the dignity of its humiliated population. Saddam Hussein's autocratic regime has not been undermined in the slightest by the embargo - quite the contrary, the embargo has only made it stronger. It is civilians that we are deliberately destroying. As a United Nations Security Council member, Canada should do everything in its power to put an end to this tragic situation. We are duty-bound to keep on reminding the government until justice is done. Francine Néméh Executive Director Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale I. THE MISSION The Quebec organization, OCVC (Objection de conscience/Voices of Conscience), has launched a campaign against the sanctions imposed on Iraq, and the observer mission from Quebec and other parts of Canada that visited Iraq from January 5 to 14, 2000, was the result of OCVC's initiative. After more than nine years of international sanctions, whose devastating effects have been documented in numerous reports , we were consequently not totally ignorant of prevailing conditions in Iraq before we set off. At the same time, we fully intended to see for ourselves the concrete ways in which the sanctions and bombing have affected the country's civilian population. We especially wanted to get a better idea of how this was happening, and bring back specific details, pictures and testimony that could not be erased or ignored. Our mission had the following main objectives: · Inform the public about the effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people; · Exert pressure on the Canadian government to change its current policy towards Iraq and help lift the sanctions; · Provide moral support to the Iraqi people by showing them that Canadians from Quebec and other parts of Canada strongly sympathized with their struggle for survival; · In a gesture that was more symbolic than substantial, because of the slender means at our disposal, offer concrete assistance to the Iraqi people in the form of medicine and school supplies. The initial delegation was made up of the following people (in alphabetical order): § Rashad Antonius, Near East expert, representing the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation (NECEF); § Denise Byrnes, representing the Association Québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI); § Françoise David, president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ); § Caroline Harvey, author-composer-actor, member of the Artistes pour la paix board of directors, and a new OCVC member; § Amir Khadir, infectious disease specialist, representing Médecins du Monde - Canada and also an OCVC member; § Josée Lambert, photographer, recipient of the 1998 "Artiste pour la paix" award, professor at Collège Ahuntsie, and an OCVC member; § Raymond Legault, professor at Collège Ahuntsic and an OCVC member; § Suzanne Loiselle, Executive Director, Entraide missionnaire; and § Svend Robinson, federal MP and NDP spokesperson on international affairs and international human rights issues. A doctor from Barcelona, David Dalmau, later joined the delegation as a representative of Doctors Without Borders (Spain). In addition, two journalists travelled with the group: Pierre Foglia of La Presse and Daniel Black of Radio Canada International (RCI). A final member of the group was Rick McDowell of Voices in the Wilderness (VITW), the American organization that has been one of the pioneers in the anti-sanction struggle and which has organized some thirty missions to Iraq. Rick McDowell acted as our guide and logistics manager during the trip. Itinerary, visits and meetings The members of our delegation first went to Amman, the Jordanian capital. >From there, very early on the morning of January 5, we set off for Baghdad on an approximately 1,000-kilometre road trip that was almost entirely across the desert. We reached Baghdad in the evening. Our observer mission focussed on the central and southern regions of Iraq where 86% of the Iraqi population lives under the jurisdiction of the central government. More specifically, we visited two major cities: Baghdad itself, the capital, and Basrah in the south. The Basrah region has been particularly affected - first, by the Iran-Iraq war, then by the war in 1991, and now by sanctions. Our daily visit schedule was decided collectively several days ahead of time, based on suggestions from Rick McDowell of VITW, as well as on certain of our companions' specific objectives and pre-arranged contacts. Our visits to public institutions had to be submitted for approval to the Iraqi Red Crescent. Generally speaking, we went on visits as a group, accompanied by a Red Crescent representative and, because one of our members was a Canadian MP, a representative of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. Within this overall framework, we visited schools, hospitals, a clinic, an orphanage, a centre for "street children," an internal refugee camp, a public bomb shelter ('Amiriyah, which was bombed in 1991), and a residential neighbourhood that was hit by a missile in 1999. In addition, meetings with UN agencies, NGOs working in Iraq, religious communities and private institutions took place without any official chaperones present. In this context, we met with representatives of the following organizations: the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOCHI); UNICEF; the World Health Organization (WHO); the World Food Program (WFP); the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; the Italian NGO, Un Ponte Per Bagdad; the French NGOs, Première Urgence and Enfants du Monde-Droits de l'Homme; and the Middle East Council of Churches. We also met with the Catholic Archbishop of Basrah. Several members of our delegation, notably, the NDP MP Svend Robinson, also requested and were granted meetings of a more official character. We were also able to have discussions with the Ministry of Information and Culture, the Ministry of Education, the Deputy Foreign Minister, a representative of the Federation of Iraqi Women, the government's Cultural Advisor, and the Director of the School of Architecture. At these meetings, we unequivocally voiced our concerns about human rights violations by the Iraqi regime, in addition to discussing the situation created by the war and the sanctions that followed. Outside the common schedule, delegation members, either as individuals or in small groups, were also able to arrange unchaperoned appointments with a certain number of people from the following groups, in particular: the artistic community, religious communities, doctors, students, NGO workers, sociologists and educational experts. Finally, there were times we simply walked around, seeing what was going on and striking up casual conversation with people we ran into. Sometimes, these chance meetings even led to invitations back to the homes of the people we met. We found the people we met in Iraq extremely warm, hospitable and dignified, in spite of the terrible conditions in which they live. And this overall experience deeply affected us. During our stay, it was extremely easy to notice the suffocating, repressive character of the Iraqi regime, particularly as reflected in the presence of police and soldiers everywhere and the general population's obvious fear of voicing opinions on the country's domestic policy. However, from the start of the mission, we had decided not to prioritize this aspect of the situation, since it was generally well known and often used for propaganda purposes in justifying the bombings and sanctions. After all, it is the Iraqi people themselves who, first and foremost, will have to find a solution to these problems. Instead, we preferred to concentrate on publicizing the catastrophic effects of over nine years of bombing and sanctions have had on the Iraqi population. We wanted to do this, partly because the major television networks have never adequately reported on the cruel destruction caused by the bombing in 1991. Furthermore, the same media have only occasionally mentioned the disastrous effects the sanction program has produced, and have been superficial and cynical in the way they have covered the oil-for-food program. To a very great extent, people in Quebec and other parts of Canada know very little about all this. We also wanted to make this situation known because the pain and suffering caused by this "war" of sanctions intrinsically involves our responsibility, since it is a direct result of the international policies the Canadian government subscribes to and has actively supported from the start as a stalwart ally of the United States of America. The following pages describe in some detail what we saw. We have included a considerable quantity of background information, because this helps to appreciate not only the effects of the sanctions, but also how these are understood by the victims. We have to make an effort to empathize, while still retaining a certain critical perspective. II. THE HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND The country of Iraq developed around Mesopotamia, a fertile land situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and surrounded by desert. Iraq shares borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan and Syria to the west, Turkey to the north, and Iran to the east. It has limited access to the Persian Gulf. Iraq is a relatively wealthy country, possessing the main qualifications for a developed country: natural resources (mines, oil, agriculture and water), well-trained human resources, and financial capital, based mainly on oil revenues. This combination of factors makes it unique compared with other Arab countries, since the others have individually one or more of these assets, but not all together. These factors explain, in part, why a number of civilizations came and went on this land, a fact the Iraqi people are well aware of, and which gives them a certain pride and dignity. The Kingdom of Iraq was created as a result of the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. On July 14, 1958, a bloody coup d'état overthrew the monarchy and a republic was proclaimed. Two other coups d'état in 1963 and 1968 respectively gave rise to the new republic of Iraq. After this, Iraq withdrew from the pro-Western Baghdad Pact and developed closer ties with the USSR. In 1961, the Iraqi government claimed Kuweit as part of Iraq, but backed down in the face of unanimous opposition from Arab League countries who did not want to wake up the dormant issue of national boundaries inherited from the colonial era. The government regime that resulted from the 1968 coup set up a welfare state and a centralized state economy. In 1970, agrarian reform was introduced, involving programs both to redistribute land and set up cooperatives. These measures resulted in a significant redistribution of wealth and income, and the economic system became more egalitarian. Medical services improved and became free. Education was extended to rural areas, and the number of children and young people receiving education increased at all levels from primary school to university. Women benefited from these developments in a number of specific ways. First, modernization of the economy accelerated urbanization, offering women more work and educational opportunities. The transition from the traditional, patriarchal, extended family to the nuclear family gave women more freedom. Women living in cities were the ones that benefited from these changes. On the other hand, changes to the Personal Status Code liberalized prevailing legislation to some extent, allowing women to extricate themselves more easily from the traditional authority of the men in the family with respect to choosing a husband, working and even divorce. Finally, women were encouraged to participate politically within very strict limits - namely, they were not allowed to brook in any whatsoever the authority of the party in power or its leaders. In the traditional rural areas, these reforms only had minimal impact, except in terms of the female literacy rate, which became the highest in the Arab world. A program of nationalizing natural resources was ordered at the same time as these social reforms. Oil companies were nationalized, and this enabled the government to control both the production and exportation of oil and thereby fund its social programs. During the 1970s and 1980s, the regime embarked on a steadily increasing program of militarization. The army expanded in size and was provided more equipment; the same thing happened to the various external and internal security services. A large percentage of the male population was drafted into the military, particularly after the outbreak of the war against Iran in 1980. While Iraq's heavy weaponry was generally supplied by the Soviet Union, many of its arms also came from western countries, who saw Saddam Hussein as a bulwark against the Islamic revolution in Iran and therefore supported the Iraqi war effort. The regime based its legitimacy on its revolutionary rhetoric and the social programs it had set up, particularly in health and education. This "carrot" was combined with a "stick": strict surveillance of the civilian population, carried out partly by leaders of the Ba'ath party, and partly by the plethora of secret police services. A system of conscription into these networks of domestic spies and informers was set up. A total, blind allegiance to the regime was required, and this was rewarded by material benefits and preferential access to certain resources. For young people, party membership meant opportunities to obtain scholarships to study abroad, take part in official trips, qualify for promotion within the party itself and enjoy generally upward social mobility. One of the consequences of this situation was that it suffocated the civilian population and did not allow non-governmental organizations to develop. Any political opposition was physically exterminated. Torture became the standard treatment for dissidents, and political assassination or liquidation in prison or abroad became the likely fate of activists belonging to non-Ba'ath parties or dissidents within the Ba'ath party itself. To all intents and purposes, the country was governed by a "rule of terror." The only sections of society that had a very limited degree of freedom were to be found in the existing religious and clan structures. This explains that when the regime was seriously challenged in 1992, revolt took the form of either religious or ethnic opposition: the Shi'ites in the south and the Kurds in the north. Political opposition In the contemporary context, three types of political opposition can be distinguished: · Ethnic-based opposition, represented by the various Kurdish parties; · Opposition that is part ethnic and part religious, represented by the Shi'ites in the south; and · Secular opposition, comprising citizens sharing similar political ideologies, regardless of the ethnic or religious groups they belong to. For reasons of brevity, the following descriptions will be necessarily simplistic and almost certainly reductionist: In the first group of political opponents are found the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party), the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan), the PSK (Socialist Party of Kurdistan), the Patriotic United Front of Kurdistan and the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan. The KDP, led by the Barzani clan, maintains good relations with both Turkey and the United States, and has kept its lines of communication with Baghdad open. It has benefited through the increased trade with Turkey caused by sanctions. The PUK, led by the Talabani clan, controls the southern portion of the Kurdish autonomous region. This party was created as a breakaway movement from the KDP. Fighting between these two factions has resulted in more than 3,000 deaths since 1994. The PSK is a left-wing party founded in 1979, but it does not enjoy the same level of popular support as the first two. Since 1988, the Patriotic United Front of Kurdistan has combined the KDP and he PUK, as well as six left-wing Kurdish parties and a nationalist Assyrian party, representing the Christian minority in Iraq. The Islamic Movement of Kurdistan has close ties to Teheran and the Shi'ite opposition. The main political movements belonging to the second group are the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which has very close ties to Teheran, and the Al Da'wa Party, which plays an important role among the Iraqi opposition groups and which lost several of its leaders through assassination by the Ba'ath regime. Another Islamic party is the Sunnite Islamic Liberation Party, which has close links with the Muslim Brothers in Jordan. The third group mainly consists of the Iraqi Communist Party, which has historical roots in Iraq and a significant following among Iraqi intellectuals. This party was tolerated by the Ba'ath regime, as long as it was in process of consolidating its power. However, it was often declared illegal and many of its members were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. A few other much smaller parties also belong to this category. It would also be possible to include in this category a number of organizations that are not political parties as such, but which base their opposition to the current regime on universal principles of human rights. There is at least one organization of this type in Canada: the Iraqi Society of Human Rights - Canada. Several coalition movements have come into being, but some of them (including the Iraqi National Congress) have lost a part of their credibility because they are subordinate to American initiatives and are financially dependent on Washington. On the other hand, other opposition groups have maintained a certain distance from the US government. In Canada, the Canadian-Iraqi Coordination Committee (CICC) is a coalition group, comprising several Iraqi parties, which is particularly active in Ontario. Other groups do exist, but they have problems operating, even in exile, because of the repressive action that can be taken against either their members in Iraq or their members' relatives and associates living abroad. In general, Iraqi opposition groups criticize the economic sanctions against Iraq and want them to be lifted immediately. However, they believe that such a demand has to be associated with a condemnation of the Saddam Hussein regime because of its bloody repression of the Iraqi people and its responsibility for the current state of conflict. In addition, some opposition parties, undoubtedly because of the very severe persecution they have suffered and the regime's record of false promises, have become very mistrustful of the other political movements, and this has made attempts to combine efforts all the more difficult. The Makeup of Iraqi Society It is commonly observed that Iraqi society is composed of several social groupings which can be described in terms of ethnicity and religion: the Sunni Arabs, the Shi'ite Arabs, the Kurds with their own language and culture that they share with other Kurds in Iran and Turkey, and, lastly, the small Christian minority. The Iraqi Jewish community, with its long-standing historical roots in Iraqi soil, existed until midway through the twentieth century. However, virtually all of its members emigrated, and there now remains only a hundred or so families at most, primarily consisting of older people. Most Iraqi Muslims are Shi'ites. On the other hand, the vast majority of the world's Muslims are Sunni (an Arabic word referring to what is related to tradition), and about only about ten per cent belong to other branches of Islam. The most important non-Sunni branch is the Shi'ite, who are followers of Imam Ali, the Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law and the fourth Caliph, who was assassinated. Most Shi'ites live in Iraq and Iran. The Republic of Iraq's Constitution is based on secular principles, including the separation of religion and the state. The national religion remains Islam, nonetheless, and some 95% of the Iraqi people are Muslims. Of these, some 65% are Shi'ite who are mostly located in the southern part of the country. The remaining Sunni 35% are to be found mainly in the capital and the central region, and have been dominant in government since independence. There have been a number of major Shi'ite insurrections against the central government, including one in spring 1991. Iraq's Christian population is approximately 5% of a total of some 24 million mainly Muslim inhabitants. This group consists of several denominational groupings: Chaldean, Nestorian and Syriac (as the largest three), plus some Melkite and Armenian groups that all use traditional forms of service originating in the Middle East and the Caucasus. In addition, some Iraqi Christians follow the Latin rite, and there are also some Reform and evangelical groups. Christian communities are located mainly in Mosul and Baghdad, but can be found all over the country. They are free to practice their religion and do social and pastoral work in their respective communities. The freedom to practice monotheistic religions is an integral part of the Iraqi Constitution. The Catholic Church has existed in Iraq from ancient times. Although it has very few members, it plays a significant role in the country's social and cultural life. Women play a major role in the church's range of dynamic activities. From time to time during the mission, delegation members were with Iraqi Christians and noticed their bitterness towards the international community. These Christians totally disapprove of the embargo and its component sanctions that have totally paralyzed the country's development and impoverished its civilian population almost beyond the point of no return. Most of the Iraqis who have left for exile are from these Christian communities. However, it would be a mistake to consider that such a system of classification, based on ethnicity or religion, is the most natural approach, or to think that all these groups are homogeneous entities. On the one hand, certain divisions (particularly based on economic level or class) separate these various groups that are made up of landowners, urban and trading elites, as well as poor peasants and underprivileged urban classes. On the other hand, in recent times, these groups were able to join forces in their struggle against British colonialism. The creation of a secular welfare state after independence facilitated a genuine process of national integration and witnessed several notable successes. The regime's failures, caused by both external and internal factors, especially its reign of terror, have resulted in a resurgence of ethnic and religious identity that has seriously threatened Iraq's national unity. This is reflected in the fact that several contemporary Iraqi political movements are based on either religion or ethnicity. The war against Iran The conflict between Iran and Irak has a long history, but, during the 1970s, two major factors heightened tension between the two countries. One of two causes was a border conflict involving the Shatt Al-Arab (a waterway located at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates) and a few islands in the vicinity. This conflict resulted in an agreement signed between the Shah of Iran and the Iraqi government in 1975. Iraq made territorial concessions in exchange for a cessation of Iranian support to Kurdish groups in the north, the second issue that was creating tension between the two countries. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 aggravated these sources of tension with Kurdish groups finding it easier to cross the Iran-Iraq border to carry out attacks on Iraqi soil before returning for refuge to the Iranian side. In addition, the Shi'ites of southern Iraq felt the call of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and this added an ideological element to the tense relations between the two countries. At the same time, the internal upheavals caused by the Islamic Revolution gave Saddam Hussein's regime the impression that the balance of power had temporarily swung in its favour, and that an attack against Iran would accomplish a number of objectives at once: recover the border territory conceded in 1975; put a stop to Iranian support for dissident Shi'ites and Kurds; and establish Iraqi dominance in the region. Several analysts claim that American intelligence services encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack Iran by painting a glowing picture of an easy victory because of the disorganized state of the Iranian army. The Iranian army was experiencing a crisis of loyalty because of its past allegiance to the by-then-overthrown Shah made it suspect in the eyes of Iran's Islamic revolutionaries. It should also be noted that the other Middle East oil kingdoms felt threatened by the Iranian Revolution. In other words, a convergence of interests between the western powers, the oil kingdoms and Saddam Hussein's regime induced Iraq to start the war. In a nutshell, support from both the West and other Arab countries made Iraq feel that it was in a position of strength vis-à-vis Iran. In this situation, Iraq portrayed itself as the defender of the Arab world against the "Persian aggressor." (In fact, it was virtually in such terms that some Iraqi officials described this period of history for us.) The Iran-Iraq war lasted almost eight years and caused more than a million casualties, especially on the Iranian side. It also imposed a heavy burden on the Iraqi economy. Saddam Hussein's government earnestly hoped that the other Arab countries would cover Iraq's war debt. At the same time, he was vulnerable to economic pressure caused by the need to maintain the social programs that were the basis of his legitimacy. Other troubling factors were low oil prices and the fact the Kuwait was apparently pumping oil out of Iraqi soil in a disputed border area (the Rumeilah oil fields). This was the context of growing tension with Kuwait. The invasion of Kuwait and subsequent sanctions The invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, was thus the outcome of a period of tension and failed negotiations. The reasons for the invasion were economic in nature, but there were also strategic geopolitical overtones (let's not forget that Iraq had been claiming Kuwait as part of Iraq since 1961). However, Saddam Hussein had miscalculated the international reaction, especially that of the other Arab countries. He might have been also "encouraged" in his mistake by April Glaspie, the American Ambassador in Iraq who told him a few days before the invasion that the United States had "no opinion on Arab-Arab conflict" and had no defence agreement with Kuwait. Saddam Hussein took these statements as a "green light" for his occupation of all of Kuwait. Some analysts claim that April Glaspie's statements were a tactic to push Saddam Hussein into attacking Kuwait, which would then provide the perfect alibi for destroying Iraq's military capability and justifying an expanded American military presence in the oil kingdoms that were America's allies. This was the background to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. The UN Security Council called on Iraq to withdraw immediately (Resolution 660 of August 2, 1999) and froze Iraqi assets in most western countries. On August 6, 1990, the Security Council ordered a full trade, financial and military embargo of Iraq (Resolution 661) in order to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. In the face of Iraq's refusal to withdraw, the Security Council issued an ultimatum: Resolution 678 of November 29, 1990, which set January 15, 1991, as the deadline for Iraq to apply all relevant UN resolutions, including those covering its withdrawal from Iraq, and warned that failure to do so would entail the use of all necessary means to enforce the resolutions. In January 1991, after Iraq had repeatedly turned a deaf ear to many appeals to withdraw from Iraq and after a final effort by France to find a diplomatic solution was blocked by the United States and Great Britain, a 26-country coalition, under American command and made up of many western countries, including Canada, and most Arab states, went to war against Iraq. The human cost of the war was enormous. (quote) During the six weeks of war, a considerable portion of Iraq's infrastructure (particularly health facilities) was completely destroyed. The conflict also had catastrophic economic and social consequences in Jordan. In fact, in addition to having its economy thrown into disarray, Jordan had to absorb a large number of refugees. However, it did not receive any assistance in this respect because it had not supported a military solution to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. One of the results of the rout of the Iraqi army in the south was the seizure of tons of records detailing how Iraq repressed Kuwait, treated prisoners of conscience and their families, and conscripted people into the Iraqi secret intelligence services (for example, rape followed by blackmail and other forms of coercion). Fighting ended on February 28, 1991, and a provisional cease-fire agreement was signed on March 3. On April 3, a formal cease-fire was established (Resolution 687). In the same resolution, the Security Council required Iraq to dispose of all its weapons of mass destruction, and set up a UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to oversee the disarming of Iraq. In spring 1991, two uprisings (one in the north by the Kurds and one in the south by the Shi'ites) were bloodily repressed to the great disillusionment of the insurgents who had been bewitched by Washington into believing that support would be forthcoming, when, in fact, this never materialized. On December 20, 1991, the UN decided to maintain the total embargo of Iraq, established by Resolution 661, and this has continued until now, with the exception of the oil-for-food program introduced in 1996, which we will talk about later. III. THE EFFECT OF SANCTIONS ON IRAQ'S ECONOMY AND INSTITUTIONS Before sanctions, the war of 1991 had already caused a large number of victims from among the civilian population. The country's infrastructure, particularly its health-related facilities (drinking water treatment and wastewater disposal) had been seriously damaged, causing an enormous humanitarian catastrophe in addition to the harm caused by bombing and the massive displacement of the population. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that sanctions have inflicted much greater harm than the immediate destruction caused by the 1991 war. Sanctions have, in effect, prevented Iraq from rebuilding itself after being destroyed by the war. This situation, lasting ten years, has produced disastrous consequences because of the cumulative effects of both inadequate health and sanitation services and food shortages. However, it is economic deprivation that has had the most profound effect on Iraqi society, and this has even started to affect people's sense of identity. These are the specific processes we have tried to identify and analyze. Even though the short duration of our mission prevented us from claiming to have carried out a very detailed or rigorous analysis of Iraqi society, we can at least give an overall picture that we feel is relatively close to reality. Our first impression of Baghdad was not quite what we expected. The streets were full of people - students were walking around with exercise books in their arms, normal city traffic was moving, stores were open and some fruit and vegetable stands were displaying their wares, as is customary in many Arab countries. However, we soon noticed that there were not many people in the stores, and most people did not have access. As we gradually extended the range of our observations and met more people, we came to appreciate the scope of the economic disaster that underlies the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq. According to the Security Council's humanitarian panel quoting the UNDP, Iraq's economic situation has changed from one of relative prosperity to one of mass poverty. In contrast with a figure of $3,500 (US) in 1988, average 'per capita' income dropped to $1,500 in 1991 and $1,036 in 1998 (UN, 1999). The loss of oil revenue and the large number of factory closures, caused by the embargo, have led to shortages of a wide range of products and massive layoffs. Before the embargo, oil represented 61% of GDP (FAO, 1999), services 22%, industry 12% and agriculture 5%. A major portion of oil income was used to fund social services, such as health, water and sanitation facilities and education. The 75% drop in GDP that occurred in 1991 had an immediate, direct effect on Iraq's "social" budget, which has continued ever since. Whereas agriculture only represented 5% of GDP before sanctions, it now represents almost 50% on account of the drop in other sources of wealth. In 1995, the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that four million Iraqis, or 20% of the population, were living in extreme poverty (FAO, 1999). The embargo has created shortages of various types of goods with resultant higher prices. Because of the prohibition on exports, price increases have been followed by a lightning swift devaluation of the local currency. The Iraqi dinar that was worth more than $3 (US) in 1990 is now worth only 1/20th of cent, i.e., 1/6,000th of its value ten years ago. Until 1990, Iraq was a welfare state employing a large share of its workforce. It is thus the fixed-salary employees who have suffered the most from devaluation. For example, teachers currently earn 5,000 - 7,000 dinars per month, i.e. a maximum of $3.50 per month. We met special education teachers taking care of disabled children, who also earned $3.50 per month. Nevertheless, the price of food staples, comparatively speaking, is still very high. A small shopping expedition that we went on in order to prepare a very simple meal for three people cost several thousand dinars or the monthly salary of many government employees. A kilo of tomatoes cost 750 dinars and a kilo of cucumbers 2,000 dinars. In a revealing exercise, we cooperated with some employees in the services sector to calculate a typical family budget. They estimated that, in order to live modestly, as they were doing in 1990, they would currently need close to 70,000 dinars per month for a family of four (see box below). Since they could not get such an income, they were forced to progressively sell their household furniture and other personal possessions. A market specializing in this type of commerce has developed. There you can find items such as family souvenirs, rugs, silverware bearing the initials of its former owners, antique silver or gold jewelry, and electronic equipment (televisions, tape recorders etc.). Components of an average family's monthly budget in Iraqi dinars (ID): Basic salary of a hotel security guard (government employee) 7,500 ID Bonus 4,000 ID Rent for a two-bedroom apartment 25,000 ID Ration card (for four people) 2,000 ID 1 kilo of tomatoes 750 ID Additional food per month (vegetables) 30,000 ID Miscellaneous medical supplies 7,000 ID Dental visit (filling) 4,000 ID Cost of a cheap new pair of trousers 20,000 ID Average taxi fare (min. 400 ID, max. 1,000 ID) 600 ID Bus fare in Baghdad 50 ID Academics and even writers come there to sell their dearest possessions - their books. During a walk on Al Mutanabbi Street, in an area traditionally devoted to bookshops, stationers and printers, we saw the great classics of Arab or foreign literature, occasionally containing written inscriptions, spread out on the dusty sidewalk in the hope that a foreign visitor might buy them cheap. The direct, rapid impoverishment of a large portion of the population has brought in its wake a host of material, social and psychological consequences, such as: malnutrition and health problems, an inability to provide basic health and clothing requirements, chronic psychological stress leading to breakdown and depression, permanent states of mental tension, and feelings of powerlessness, sometimes leading to family violence. Several of the people we spoke to said that the problem of "street children" is getting worse and is becoming a growing social problem. Poverty also seems to be the reason for a significant rise in prostitution. This impoverishment has also had an impact on the country's social structure. It has led to the virtual disappearance of the middle class, as financial difficulties go hand in hand with a loss of social status. More traditional rural groups, sometimes deriving their income from dealing in smuggled goods, have climbed up the social ladder, but it is difficult to get a clear picture of all these social changes. However, there is a noticeable return to traditional social values and a decline in the secular and republican values of the former economic elite. These new social trends have been reinforced by the departure of a relatively high number of the former Baghdad elite, which only serves to make those that remain more aware of their loss of status. Infrastructure and services Various forms of infrastructure are extremely run down, since the lack of spare parts, caused by the embargo, and the lack of financial liquidity, caused by the paralyzed economy, have resulted in virtually no equipment maintenance. All this has affected a wide range of social functions or facilities, such as electricity production, water treatment, transportation, housing, schools and hospitals. And, naturally, all this deterioration affects people's health . Several electrical power stations that were seriously damaged by the bombing have not been repaired because of the embargo. Apart from the frequent power cuts this situation causes on a regular basis, it has paralyzed the sewage system; as a result, drinking water quality has been seriously affected. UNDP calculates that $7 billion would be required to restore the electrical power industry to 1990 production levels (UN, 1999). In a parallel development, wastewater is either not being treated satisfactorily or is not being treated at all in certain regions, and we observed whole neighbourhoods housing internal refugees in the Basrah region where household drains flushed into the area in front of the houses. Before the 1991 war, 90% of the urban population and 75% of the rural population had access to drinking water. By 1999, these proportions had dropped to 61% and 41% respectively. In all Third World Countries, the drinking of contaminated water is the leading cause of infectious disease, particularly in children. Because of a sanitation system that it can no longer maintain, Iraq has become an underdeveloped country. A country's level of development can be measured by the Human Development Index, a formula used by the United Nations to calculate the standard of living of people in the world's countries. This index takes into consideration both material wealth and the quality of services and various other social indicators. In 1990, Iraq ranked 55th on the HDI scale, but fell to 106th in 1995 and 125th in 1999. In addition, the periodic bombing since 1991 has become more intense since 1998. In 1999 alone, there were 138 days of bombing with thousands of bombs being dropped on almost 450 targets on Iraqi territory. These are not only military targets. Apart from "collateral damage, i.e., civilians killed by the bombing, the Americans consider that electrical power stations are legitimate targets, because they can help the Iraqi government produce weapons. Without spare parts and financial liquidity, the country's infrastructure cannot be rebuilt or repaired. It thus becomes increasingly dilapidated, thereby depriving the Iraqi population of essential services. In the long term, this could have a very profound impact on Iraq's national institutions as tools for keeping the country together. Without the financial means to operate, these institutions break down and lose their credibility in the people's eyes. The population now has increasingly less trust in the national government's ability to solve problems and has taken refuge in various ethnic-religious affiliations for the security the State can no longer provide. These trends have now existed for ten years and could have serious long-term consequences that are difficult to assess and will certainly be difficult to reverse. Smuggling Nonetheless, it is not everybody who suffers from the embargo. As can be expected in shortage situations, a smuggling-based economy has emerged. A new class of entrepreneurs has developed special skills to get around the system and import consumer goods from neighbouring countries - from Turkey via the Kurdish zones, from Jordan, along the only road linking Baghdad to Amman, from the Gulf states and, lastly from Iran, as the religious tourist industry from Iran to Iraq seems to be flourishing. We have not yet come across a coherent analysis of the changing balances of power between the various social classes and groups over the last ten years. However, we have noticed that some luxury homes have been built. (An architect told us that houses that would have been worth $150,000 (US) in 1990 are now built for $50,000, that a number of very upscale stores continue to operate (albeit with not too many customers) and that several restaurants that would be relatively high-priced (4,000 dinars for a meal) for those on fixed-incomes are still very popular. As stressed by Hans von Sponeck, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, sanctions have encouraged entrepreneurial behaviour that has developed skills in operating outside the law, to the detriment of more traditional business competence. Until 1990, Iraq was a relatively wealthy country with a developed social services system. Although its citizens' political rights were only respected to a very limited degree, their economic and social rights were better respected than in many other Arab societies. The restructuring of the market due to the embargo appears to have established parameters that will negatively impact Iraqi society for many years to come, even after any lifting of the embargo. Thus, the embargo has, in effect, violated the basic human rights of the country's civilian population and fundamentally destroyed its social institutions in a major dismemberment of society as a whole. IV. EDUCATION The economic and social crisis that has affected Iraq since the mid-1980s onwards (the period of the war against Iran) had already begun to have negative effects on the country's educational situation. The 1991 bombing campaign and the ongoing sanctions program have now reduced the educational system to a totally pathetic state. According to UNICEF, 3,000 school buildings were destroyed in 1991. In addition, the impoverishment of the population and the breathtaking drop in the government's education budget have brought about a considerable decline in the quality and quantity of educational services. In order to provide a somewhat more specific picture, we will begin by quoting paragraphs 14 and 22 of the "humanitarian panel"'s Report to the UN Security Council (UN, 1991): (reference to UNESCO) (reference to scholarships) (reference to the rate of illiteracy) In addition, according to Iraqi government statistics, 20% or a million of all primary and secondary age children were not registered in school in 1998 and another 200,000 dropped out during the school year. More recently, UNICEF summary reports, dated January 2000, show that, from 1999 to 2000, the primary school dropout rate increased from 3% to 6.6%. In sum, the current educational situation in Iraq is characterized by a series of sobering characteristics: school buildings that are partially or completely closed due to a lack of maintenance and repair; a chronic shortage of basic school supplies, desks, books and other educational material which are also high-priced; and a growing number of teachers who leave the profession in search of other better-paid occupations. Some of the effects of these factors include: overcrowded classrooms, shortened school days, and a bare minimum educational program. In several instances, students only receive three hours of classes per day in a system whereby schools receive three consecutive shifts of students per day! Our visits to several schools where the Italian NGO, Un Ponte per Bagdad, had carried out major renovations totally confirmed this disastrous situation. At Ibn Al Mo'tazz school, we learned that 45 male teachers and 15 female teachers, for a total teaching staff of 60, handled two shifts of students, 650 in the morning and 650 in the afternoon. The classrooms were in a pathetic state, containing some 15 not-so-big old tables, designed for two students each, but which had to accommodate three, or even four, children each. Nothing that could legitimately be called teaching equipment was available; there were only a few old geographical maps, stained and torn through use. Anuparma Singh, the UNICEF representative, told us during our visit to the United Nations complex in Baghdad that 55% of Iraq's schools are currently not in a suitable condition for teaching and learning. She told us that UNICEF was very concerned - and, frankly, pessimistic - about what is going to become of children between 11 and 18 in Iraq because of a number of factors: withdrawal from the school system, the increasing use of child labour, and the emergence of the "street children" phenomenon. It seems that more girls than boys are dropping out of school. We were told that, if a choice has to be made, parents usually prefer to send their sons, rather than their daughters, to school. The situation at the university level is hardly better. In former times, Iraq had many, well-respected universities that attracted students from all over the Arab world. Several young Iraqi students were also able to study abroad and received financial support for this. All that is now over. Iraq is essentially cut off from the rest of the world, so far as the development of knowledge and access to information is concerned. Generally speaking, the most recent books in university libraries date from ten years ago. There are obviously few computers and no Internet access. After all these years of sanctions, it is also out of the question that Iraqi graduate and post-graduate students take part in international conferences. Despite these unfavourable conditions and the fact that job prospects in their fields of study are extremely limited , a large number of Iraqi students continue to attend university. This perseverance shows how highly education is valued in Iraqi society and also represents a form of resistance - a refusal to give up in the face of the problems caused by the embargo. We should not, however, downplay the effects of sanctions on the Iraqi education system. Well aware that he was risking further American criticism, Hans von Sponeck told us that an Iraqi intellectual he knew had even used the expression, "intellectual genocide." For Mr. von Sponeck, the sacrifice of a complete generation of education-deprived young people would be the most harmful consequence of maintaining the embargo. V. HEALTH The feeling of abandon and despair that we sometimes saw was nowhere more acute than when we visited hospitals in Baghdad and Basrah. The sight of destroyed infrastructure was all the more heartbreaking when we realized that we were dealing with recently-built hospitals, containing advanced, high-quality equipment and well-trained medical personnel that would compare well with what we have to offer in Canadian hospitals. At the Al-Mansour Hospital in Baghdad, images of death and desolation washed over us at the sight of rows of children suffering from cancer and leukemia, just left to themselves without chemotherapy, antibiotics and even intravenous solutions. However, this one example is not sufficient to explain the deaths of more than 500,000 children between 1991 and 1995 that have been attributed to the cumulative effects of the nine years of sanctions imposed on Iraq. Based on the increased mortality in Iraqi children observed by a recent UNICEF field survey (UNICEF, 1999), this estimate is still a good indicator of the Iraqi population's present state of health and totally justifies all our concerns. In this section, we will begin by presenting a detailed overview of the situation, based on reports from the main international humanitarian organizations (UNICEF, ICRC and UNOHCI). This review will be rounded out by comments from senior officials in these organizations that were noted during our meetings with them. After analyzing the reasons for the high mortality rate in the most vulnerable sections of the population, we will present our in-field observations, then the input from Iraqi hospital staff, and finally other relevant information from various sources. Health indicators before sanctions Certain types of epidemiological data are normally used to measure the state of health of a given population. In order to give an indication of how Iraq fared in this respect before sanctions, table 1 shows the most reliable and most commonly used indicators. Table 1: Health Indicators in Iraq, 1988-1989 (WHO, 1996) Birth rate per 1,000 persons 43 Mortality rate per 1,000 persons 8 Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births 52 Maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births 160 Doctors per 10,000 persons 5.8 Hospital beds per 10,000 persons 22 Premature birth rate (less than 2.5 kg at birth)(%) 5 Life expectancy (years) 66 According to a WHO analysis, published in 1999 (WHO, 1999), indicators for pre-1990 Iraq reflect a "modern developing society," that was already at a "relatively satisfactory" level of overall health and showing signs of continual improvement, based on trends since the early 1970s. Higher mortality rates during the sanction period The UNICEF Director in Iraq, Anuparma Rao Singh, manages a staff of ten observer teams, responsible for overseeing the fair, adequate and efficient distribution of resources and commodities that the Iraqi government procures in the education, health and water sectors . This supervision is exercised at all levels from warehouse to final users. Ms. Singh's organization is responsible for promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and, for many years, has spoken out against the continual deterioration in Iraqi health indicators, particularly those reflecting children's health. Immediately after the Gulf War, an international team of researchers (Ascherio, 1992), conducted a nationwide survey of the Iraqi people's nutritional and health situation. The survey showed that, for the first half of 1991, mortality among children less then five years old had tripled, compared with the equivalent period before the war. Since there has been no data for the whole country since this survey, UNICEF collaborated with the Iraqi Health Ministry in conduct aning extensive epidemiological survey in 1999, aimed at measuring infant mortality over the last 20 years and establishing a body of comparative data. Backed by the WHO, which provided technical expertise, UNICEF conducted a methodologically sound survey: in the central and southern regions of Iraq (20.9 million inhabitants), a sample of 24,000 women was selected by a three-level stratification method. The women chosen were interviewed using a questionnaire between February and March 1999. The same year, a similar epidemiological survey was carried out in the three governorates of Kurdistan (3.4 million inhabitants). The survey findings for the central and southern regions of Iraq showed that the infant mortality rate (IM, mortality rate befor e one year old per 1,000 live births) and the mortality rate for children under 4 (M<5) both showed a steady increase over the 10 years preceding the survey, i.e., the period during which Iraq was subject to sanctions. IM increased from 47 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1984 and 1989 to 108 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1994 and 1999. During the same period, M<5 climbed from 56 to 131 deaths per 1,000 live births. In order to provide a fair reflection of the scope of this public health disaster, Ms. Singh showed us a comparative analysis (Jones, 1999), charting the under-five infant mortality between 1960 and 1999 (see graph 1). If the rapid, steady drop in this rate during the three decades prior to sanctions had continued during the 1990s the M>5 rate would have been approximately 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1999. However, according to UNICEF's latest survey, the rate climbed to 131 deaths per thousand live births between 1994 and 1999. Taking into account the annual number of births recorded during the sanction period (1991-98), it is estimated that the number of under-five children who died during this period is half a million more than the projected number if pre-sanction trends had continued. Iraq: Mortality rate for children under five (graph) (Vertical axis: Mortality rate/1,000 live births, marked off, in units of 10, from 0 to 180) (Horizontal axis: Year, marked off, in five-year periods, from 1960 to 2000) (The solid-line graph shows a steady drop of approximately 20 deaths/1,000 live births every five years from 1960 to a low of around 40 in 1990. The graph jumps sharply to around 130 in 1991, drops to around 90 in 1992, then climbs steadily back to 130 in 1999) (The dotted-line graph shows a steady drop from 160 in 1960 to around 30 in 2000). Graph 1: The solid line charts the under-five child mortality rate based on data from several surveys, the most recent of which was UNICEF's (1999). The dotted line shows how this rate would have evolved, if the trend observed from the 1960s to the end of the 1980s had continued during the 1990s (source: Jones 1999). Maternal morality, just like the other public health indicators, has showed the same negative trend. For the period from the beginning of sanctions to date, the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births has increased from 160 to 194, making this the main cause of death of Iraqi women of child-bearing age over the last ten years (UNICEF, 1999). What do Iraqis die of under sanctions? We protest violently against wars in which the casualties can be counted directly. On the other hand, seemingly non-violent sanctions do not suffer the same censure despite the serious damage they do to the health of people living in the countries targeted (Morin & Steven, 2000). If more proof is needed of this, the embargo against Irak shows that economic sanctions cause considerable suffering, undermine the well-being of an entire nation, and result in mortality rates far higher than those observed in the most bloody of wars. So, how does this come about? The state of health of a given population depends on the complex interaction of a series of factors, including access to food, potable water and a good level of public hygiene. These factors have a far more decisive effect on people's health than access to hospital care or medicine. We have explained above that the embargo has caused serious economic difficulties affecting all aspects of life in Iraq. The decline in access to potable water and the definite drop in standards of public hygiene are some of the most serious consequences of this situation. It is important, however, to also speak about the food situation in Iraq that several researchers have described as a "famine." (Zurbrigg, 1999). Since 1990, the average Iraqi has been dependent on a rationed food distribution system. Dr. S. Zurbrigg, a historian of famine, states that, like a number of similar situations in both historical and modern times, Iraq suffers from famine, not because of an absolute lack of food, but because the majority of its people cannot access the meagre quantity of food available on the market. This food has been put out of the financial reach of most of the population because of the ways in which the embargo has profoundly upset the Iraqi economy. Specifically, the embargo has upset the traditional food distribution system, creating a situation that combines both soaring inflation and a horrendous drop in family purchasing power. The World Food Program (WFP) reported in 1995 that the family purchasing power index in Iraq dropped from 3.62 in 1990 to 0.06 in 1995, or 1/20th of the index of 1.25 that is the WFP standard for the onset of family nutritional deficiency (UN, 1999). Although the 1999 data showed an initial levelling of the rising chronic malnutrition curve (UNICEF 2000), probably due to implementation of the oil-for-food program, this only reflects a stabilization of high levels of malnutrition that still remain very alarming. (see Table 2). As even the UN Secretary-General admitted in November 1999, "the caloric value of the food basket, . . . has fallen short of the Programme targets . . . At the end of October 1999, of the 31 distribution cycles since the start of the Programme, the targeted food basket requirements were met in only 6 . . . These shortfalls were largely the result of under-procurement of some commodities, notably . . . milk . . . On average, the food basket . . . provided 1,993 kilocalories per person per day, thereby meeting almost 93 per cent of the caloric requirement of the food basket and 85 per cent of the protein requirements" (SG-ONU, 1999). Table 2. Malnutrition and morbidity (WHO, 1999, and UNICEF, 2000) Condition / Diseases 1990 1998 1999 Variation* Chronic malnutrition (stunting): Children under five 18% 26.7% 20.4% + 13% Acute malnutrition (wasting): Children under five 3% 9.3% + 210% Premature births (weighing less than 2.5 kg) 4.5% 24% + 430% RTI (respiratory tract infections) per 10,000 children under five 5,708 6,650 + 16% RTI: mortality rate per 1,000 cases 1.1 11.7 + 1,064% Diarrhea: per 10,000 children under five 3,620 3,912 + 8% Diarrhea: mortality rate per 1,000 cases 1.6 19.3 + 1,770% Cholera 0 2,560 Malaria 3,924 5,996 + 53% Tuberculosis 14,735 29,410 + 100% *Variation = (1998 or 1999 value - 1990 value) ÷1990 value Infectious diseases Table 2 compares pre- and post-sanction statistics for the main health problems in Iraq. Acute malnutrition in children has more than tripled. The problem of malnutrition in women, which manifests itself in low baby birth-weights has quintupled. Although the incidence of common diseases, such as respiratory infections and diarrhea, has not changed very much, these diseases nevertheless account for 10-18 times more deaths. These relatively innocuous diseases have become fatal in post-embargo Iraq, since they occur in populations where both individual and collective defence systems have been weakened. Individuals are more susceptible because of the interaction of malnutrition, poor hygienic conditions and psychological stress, and the population as a whole is vulnerable because of the low level of health care available. This latter factor is important because it helps to understand how the most vulnerable individuals in the Iraqi population, namely very young children, pregnant women, or the chronically ill, weakened by embargo-caused malnutrition, are dying. And they are dying, not of hunger, but more because of not normally fatal, but very widespread diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. The incidence of diseases, like tuberculosis, that are related to an individual's standards of living is steadily increasing and are a direct reflection of deteriorating economic conditions (WHO, 1999). The incidence of lice infections, which is usually related to breakdowns in the public hygiene system, has increased from a mere 198 cases in 1990 to more than 43,600 cases in 1998. In addition, the general despair, the extremely difficult material circumstances of life, and the constant threat of bombing and war have all had a profound psychological impact. As a result, there were 510,000 psychiatric consultations in 1998, an increase of 250% compared with the number recorded in 1990, whereas the overall population increase was just 20% over the same period. Cancers and congenital malformations The international organizations we met did not have reliable or complete data on the pattern of cancer and leukemia in the Iraqi population since the embargo started. However, according to several reports and the testimony from Iraqi doctors and medical officials, collected by a very large number of observers including our own delegation, there has been an alarming increase in cancer during this time. This is particularly true of various forms of leukemia and lymphoma, which, based on various estimates, have increased between 400% and 1,000% (Arbuthnot, 1999). The same goes for the abnormally high incidence of congenital malformations (see below) that have been observed in the southern areas of Iraq that were the main theatre of fighting during the Gulf War. Several carcinogenic factors and substances can be mooted to explain this (Bertell, 1997), including: i) smoke and chemical pollutants from the oil wells that burned during the war; ii) the large quantities and insecticides and pesticides that were used during the war as protection against possible infestation; iii) the allies' destruction of Iraq's chemical and biological weaponry during the fighting and their release into the environment; and iv) the intense electromagnetic radiation emitted by the highly sophisticated arms and equipment used by each side. At the same time, specialists are increasingly looking at depleted uranium as being the main suspect in the increased incidence of cancers, congenital malformations, and miscarriages. Depleted uranium (DU) is a nuclear waste-product which has replaced tungsten as the coating for projectiles and missiles and given them tremendous penetrating power. DU burns on impact, producing a fine powder that can be inhaled or ingested when it disperses in the environment. It also enters the food chain through water or the soil. According to the American Army's Institute of Environmental Policy, "DU-associated risks are both chemical and radiological in nature;" "when it is inhaled in oxidant form, DU is deposited in the lungs and can cause cancer." In 1990, before the Gulf War, Great Britain's Atomic Energy Commission estimated, in a report submitted to the British government, that the use of 50 tons of DU on the battlefields of a war with Iraq could result in an increase of approximately 50,000 cases of cancer over the next decade. This did not prevent the allies from dropping some 300 tons (Birchard, 1998), or possibly even 900 tons, of DU on Iraq during the six weeks of bombing in 1991. In 1996, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities condemned the use of weapons containing depleted uranium, classifying them as weapons of mass or blind destruction, in the same category as nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, aerosol bombs, napalm bombs, cluster bombs and biological weapons. Studies on this question have been conducted by many individuals and pacifist organizations, as well as by American, British and Canadian war veterans, who think they may have been exposed to DU. However, field research is still in its early stages and, according to Dr. Popal, the WHO representative in Iraq, international orgnaizations, including Dr. Popal's own, consider the topic very sensitive and almost taboo. Under these circumstances, it has not yet been possible to conduct a thorough field study in order to establish a convincing cause-and-effect relation between DU and all its suspected ill effects. However, as Rosalie Bertell, the eminent radiobiologist and well-known pacifist, states (Bertell, 1997), "the Desert Storm veterans, just like the citizens of Iraq and Kuweit, have been victims of one of the most recent military experiments on human beings. I believe that this ignorance is criminally culpable." The health system Before going to Iraq, mission members had often heard or read about American criticism of the perverted or negligent way in which medical aid to Iraq was being distributed, and the American Secretary of State held the Iraqi government responsible for this. When we met Dr. Popal in the UN compound in Baghdad, we immediately questioned him on how this aid was being distributed. Dr. Popal explained that the WHO, as the organization responsible for distributing medicine and other medical supplies in the regions controlled by the central government had noticed no major problem or deliberate obstruction in the process. Seventy-seven per cent of all the medical material that had arrived in Iraq in 1999 had been distributed. The Iraqi authorities store 14% of the medicine and supplies as a buffer reserve (less than the standard 20%). The remaining 9% is slow to leave storage because of reasons we cover in the section on the oil-for-food program. Overall, the Iraqi health system's infrastructure and organization have suffered considerable damage as a result of the Gulf War. However, it has continued to operate in spite of defective equipment, ridiculously low staff salaries and a general lack of medicine (WHO, 1999). People are unhappy with the public health services (WHO, 1999), but outpatient clinic and dispensary consultations indicate an increased call on medical services. The number of nurses has decreased significantly, but Table 3 does not provide any information on the deplorable conditions our mission witnessed on the spot. For example, a major university centre in Baghdad, the Al-Mansour Hospital, had only two nurses on average for each forty-bed unit of relatively serious cases (cancers and post-operational care). Despite the dedicated efforts of its nursing staff and highly qualified doctors, healthcare standards have fallen to deplorable levels (ICRC, 1999). Because the embargo also affects delivery of scientific publications, doctors are no longer able to update their medical knowledge through reading specialized medical journals. Many doctors have left the country and nursing staff have quit because of salaries that are nothing more than a meagre pittance. Table 3. Health Resource Trends in Central and Southern Irak (WHO 1999) Indicator 1990 1998 Variation* Hospital beds per 1,000 persons 17.2 14.8 - 14% Public health clinics per 1,000 persons 737 93.2 + 26% Doctors per 10,000 persons 5.5 5.6 + 2% Nursing staff and midwives per 1,000 persons 6.4 5.9 - 8% Major surgical operations per 1,000 persons 6.0 2.7 - 55% Blood tests per 1,000 persons 31.3 8.9 - 72% Hospital admissions per 1,000 person 69.4 66.8 - 4% Outpatient consultations per 1,000 persons 207 755 + 265% * Variation = (1998 value + 1990 value) ÷ 1990 value Since sanctions were first imposed, Iraq's 130 hospitals, many of whom were built by foreign companies in the 1960s and 1970s, have not benefited from required repairs or maintenance to their equipment. Hospital buildings are starting to show signs of wear and tear, as are their wiring, ventilation systems and elevators. In sum, regardless of whether it is a question of costly, imported equipment or the simplest of supplies, the Iraqis are not in a position to replace them. The more than one thousand dispensaries that serve the needs of the majority of the population, do not need sophisticated infrastructure; all the same, the lack of basic supplies and equipment - stethoscopes, sterilizers, swabs and even writing paper - is a genuine impediment to the proper functioning of these dispensaries. "As a result, there have been enormous repercussions on the quality of the care patients receive (ICRC, 1999). VI. THE SITUATION OF IRAQI WOMEN The situation of women in Iraqi society shares many common features with all the other countries in the world. Iraqi women are responsible for looking after children, and, in a more general way, for the whole family. It is therefore not surprising that, in a country that has been subject to a devastating embargo for ten years, women's living conditions have been affected. Children suffer from health problems linked to malnutrition and a lack of care and medicine. The mothers feed, dress, educate and generally take care of the children. They also do household tasks in accommodation that is usually too small and poorly heated. Many fathers leave to find work in neighbouring countries, since work is painfully hard to find in Iraq. In such cases, mothers are left with being solely responsible for the children. Many families have three or four children. "Contraception" is virtually a taboo word in Iraq. Polygamy is tolerated and many marriages are "arranged." Still, the young hope to be freer. We were told that a third of women work outside the home, mainly in areas like primary and secondary education, social work, nursing and pharmacy services. Women also work in the hotel industry. Nonetheless, it is still striking to observe, as we saw in Baghdad, how absent women are from public markets. In fact, this reality made us wonder what exactly women's rights are in Iraqi society where patriarchal ideas predominate. For even though Iraqi girls go to school and university, we also noticed a return to traditional religious practice that could very well involve further restrictions on women. This is undoubtedly explained by people's need for comfort in a situation where it is difficult to see "light at the end of the tunnel." On the one hand, women should not have to bear the whole burden. On the other, the situation is not so simple. Observers are already seeing a resurgence of early marriages in rural areas. Teenage girls are married off because it is one less mouth to feed. In some circles, young girls are withdrawn from school in order to help their mothers and because parents have to choose which of their children to sent to school. Usually, the boys are chosen. Many women now wear the traditional black cloak (better known by its Iranian name, "chador"), and this reflects the continued strong influence of tradition and a certain revival of conservatism. There are many grounds for blaming problems on the embargo against Iraq. The current, unfortunate steps backward in Iraqi women's struggle for equality are just one more reason for blame. VII. THE CULTURAL DIMENSION By virtue of its geographic location at the crossroads of various cultural influences, Iraq became the cradle of human writing. Conditions were suitable in Mesopotamia for the development of one of the world's oldest civilizations, known for having left many countless traces in western civilization. Babylon is a source of inspiration for Iraqis of both sexes, and they are very conscious of the lengthy history of the culture they have inherited. In this fertile region, fiercely coveted because of its role as home to the two mythic rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, successive dynasties developed a refined lifestyle during the Arab-Islamic golden age with its devotion to poetry and maqam, the setting of text to music according to strict rules. We should not forget that Baghdad was the longtime capital of the Islamic world. The artists that we met were most eloquent in the way they articulated this sense of the long history of their cultural heritage. Their opinions and perceptions provided a good idea of the state of mind of one section of the population, and we tried to be sensitive to their sensibilities, while being aware that those of them who lived abroad were able to more critical of the current regime. Education was established as a major government priority in the early 1970s and the country's education system acquired an excellent reputation throughout the Arab world. Iraq's highly effective literacy programs earned it an award from UNESCO in 1982 in recognition of the progress made. The government continued to develop these programs until the early 1980s. Nowadays, in spite of some dropping out, the country's school attendance rate remains relatively high, while its universities have not experienced a major decline in attendance. According to the Iraqi Minister of Education, Fahad Al Shaqra, it would seem that education is one of the Iraqis' preferred means of resistance: "Do you want the Americans to get what they want from you?" he says to them. "No? Get on with your studies, then!" Before the embargo, Iraqi cultural life benefited from consistent government support that helped spread Iraqi culture not only within the country, but throughout the whole Arab world. Many Iraqi artists are leaders in their fields: Nakik Al Malaïka, El Sayib, Al Jayawahiry, Mohamed Ghani, Ismael Fatah, Al Turk, Kathum Al Saher, Abdul Rahman Munif, Faiq Hassan, Nadum Al Ghazali, Munir Bashir and Abul-Razaq Abudl-Wahed. However, some of these artists had to go into exile to get away from the repressive regime. Some others were imprisoned, and yet others were killed. On account of its totalitarian nature, the regime has always encouraged culture, but still does not allow the free expression of ideas. The reaction of Iraqi artists has been to take refuge in an extreme symbolism, and avoid getting involved in the country's social and political life. This approach has allowed some facility in getting round the various prohibitions. For example, since he became the government's official poet, Abdul-Razaq Abdul-Wahed writes only romantic poems. Since 1991, the arts in general, have received virtually no funding at all. Artists who were used to travelling without any problems found themselves unable to obtain visas. When Culture Minister, Farouk Salouf was questioned on this point, he claimed that the embargo prevented Iraqi artists from being able to export their art because of their inability to obtain entry visas for western countries. The artists maintain, without having to spell it out, that it is the Iraqi government that no longer grants exit visas for fear that its artists will settle elsewhere. According to artist Qasim Sabty, the owner of the Hewar art gallery, this restriction is possibly the reason why there are currently six private art galleries in Baghdad, whereas there was only one in 1991. During the American bombing campaign, some historic sites representing a significant part of Iraq's long cultural history, were hit. Some of the artists we met are convinced that the United States did not bomb Iraq at random, but deliberately chose sites that were strategic, not only militarily, but also from a cultural standpoint. The purported aim was to wound the Iraqi people in its sense of belonging to one of the world's oldest civilizations. According to Mr. Sabiy, Iraq's artists have, nonetheless, not deserted their country. However, for them, it has become virtually impossible to work because of the difficulties they encounter in looking for both materials and buyers for their works. Painters and sculptors alike find themselves victims of speculators and have to sell their creations for seldom more than one-fifth of the prices they used to receive before sanctions. As prisoners in their own country, Iraqi artists are trapped between a government that muzzles them and sanctions that suffocate them - like almost every other Iraqi, they do their best and struggle for their daily bread. It might be thought that their works would be suffused in violence, anger and bitterness. Far from it. The paintings that are produced are mostly abstract. European sources of inspiration make themselves felt at a distance - Iraqi painters have been particularly successful in combining art with both "western" and "eastern" symbolism. Virtually all the artists use escapist themes and non-representative forms. The lone exception is the Director of the Saddam Art Center, Amir Al Aubaidy, whose canvases are covered with disemboweled Iraqi children, burning American flags and the faces of American and European personalities with blood dripping from their vampire teeth. For French literature students, Ali B. and Faleh H., who also work as writers and translators, one of the main difficulties is accessing recent knowledge and information. They are afraid that the result will be a generation of ignoramuses - an outcome that would be simply unacceptable for this society that is rich in very sense of the word. Poet Abdul-Razaq Abdul-Wahed expressed his consternation in these terms: "Where is the Americans' dignity? How could they think of joining forces with 30 other countries and controlling the world's international institutions, just to kill a little country with some 20 million inhabitants. I feel sorry for the West." On the night of January 17, 1991, Mr. Abdul-Wahed wrote and then recited thefollowing poem in public at a concert that was held only six hours after the start of the bombing. It is a poem that succeeds in encapsulating the feeling that we often found among Iraqi people: pride, dignity and an awareness of belonging to a race of cultural pioneers. (text of poem) VIII. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND THE NGOs Although Iraq is in a critical humanitarian situation, international development and cooperation organizations are few and far between in the country. Apart from the United Nations organizations (FAO/WFP, UNICEF and WHO), only six NGOs are active on the ground in Iraq, and, of these six, three are small, independent, European NGOs. If we compare Iraq's situation with other countries facing humanitarian crises in sub-Saharan Africa or in Eastern Europe, the large international NGOs, like OXFAM or Save the Children, are conspicuous in Iraq by their absence. This absence is mainly the result of two factors: the Iraqi government's refusal to accept international aid, on the one hand, and the United Nations embargo, on the other. In the first case, it must be understood that Iraq used to be quite a rich country with a well-developed infrastructure and universal health and education systems. The Iraqis are very proud of these achievements, and are thus reluctant to accept that their country needs international assistance to survive, even though they are prevented from selling their oil. As for the embargo, it is clear that a good number of NGOs rely on government funding to carry out their projects in the field. Since western governments are taking part in the embargo, western NGOs do not find it easy to justify why they should be in Iraq. For example, the majority of Canadian NGOs are funded by CIDA, a Canadian government agency. Finally, there is a lack of clear, reliable information on the humanitarian situation in Iraq, and, as a result, NGOs tend not to get involved. The work of the international NGOs The NGOs that are currently in Iraq mainly carry out frontline work. The French NGOs, Première Urgence and Enfants du Monde, distribute clothing, food and school supplies, and rehabilitate hospitals and orphanages. Un Ponte per Bagdad, an Italian NGO, works to rehabilitate schools and distribute educational material. These NGOs operate under supervision of the Iraqi Red Crescent which exercises a certain degree of control over their projects and sometimes makes decisions that circumscribes their room to manoeuvre. For example, the Red Crescent recently decided that the NGOs could no longer distribute medicine. From now on, the Red Crescent will be exclusively responsible for this task. Although the work of these organizations is necessary and meets certain needs for children, schools and hospitals, their work is still only of an emergency, humanitarian nature. Distributing food and clothing meets immediate needs, but does not deal with long-term problems. Handing out school supplies does not solve the problem of poorly motivated teachers who are paid $2-4 per month. According to Hans von Sponeck, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, the NGOs working in Iraq have no long-term strategy to propose. Even the UN program itself, which is supposed to be temporary and complementary" has become permanent, due to enforcement of the embargo for the past nine years. According to all the NGOs met, the current humanitarian situation in Iran is going to continue to deteriorae if the embargo is maintained. The NGOs in Iraq suffer from two types of constraint: either they do not have enough means (i.e., they are too small), or they do not have the mandate (like the UN member organizations) to enable them to plan sustainable development projects aimed at making Iraq self-sufficient At the same time, the embargo keeps the Iraqi population in "struggle for survival" mode in which it is dependent on the emergency humanitarian measures currently being provided. Some UN officials said that the situation is in the process of creating a "hand-out" mentality in the Iraqi population, one that did not exist before. It is clear that even if the embargo were lifted tomorrow, Iraq would not have finished with its development challenges. The current situation which is keeping an entire, formerly prosperous, people in a state of underdevelopment, is the result of nine years of sanctions, and rebuilding the country is bound to take as many years. Canadian NGOs must therefore get involved in educational and awareness campaigns to denounce this embargo, and not simply confine themselves to aid projects. IX. THE "OIL FOR FOOD" PROGRAM Anyone reading this report so far, might well wonder: "Yes, but isn't there a United Nations program, called "Oil for Food," that should indeed allow Iraq to sell its oil and then use the revenue to meet the basic needs of its people?" In fact, this program does exist, and it is the largest program ever launched in order to meet a single country's basic human needs. It is also the program whose last two coordinators resigned in an uproar, calling for the immediate, unconditional lifting of sanctions. Security Council resolutions concerning the embargo Let us remember that it was Security Council Resolution (SCR) 661, adopted on August 6, 1990, the day after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, that instituted the sanctions. The resolution ordered a total embargo of all exports and all imports, except for food or other medical or humanitarian supplies approved by the sanctions committee , which, in an exceptional state of affairs, is composed of representatives of all 15 member countries of the United Nations Security Council. The following month, the Iraqi government instituted a system of food rationing. In April 1991, SCR 687 set out the cease-fire terms: the disarming of Iraq in order to remove its capacity to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. As early as March 20, 1991, United Nations Under-Secretary-General Martti Ahtisaari predicted that a humanitarian catastrophe was imminent in Iraq. Also in 1991, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and other independent investigators issued similar warnings. SCRs 706 and 712, in August and September 1991 respectively, proposed to Iraq that it sell oil for a value of $1.6 billion for every six-month period in order to meet humanitarian needs . These resoluations were rejected by Iraq. On April 14, 1995, the Security Council adopted the so-called "oil for food" resolution, SCR 986. This resolution authorized Iraq to sell oil for a value of $2 billion for every period of six months and to use this money for "humanitarian needs ." Intense negotiations with the Iraqi government led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on May 20, 1996, which set out how SCR 986 was to be implemented. The first barrels of oil were exported on December 10, 1996, and the first imported food arrived in March 1997. In February 1998, SCR 1153 raised the ceiling on allowable oil exports to $5.265 billion per six-month period. However, Iraq was unable to meet this figure because of the condition of its production equipment. Following a report by a group of independent oil industry consultants retained by the Security Council, SCRs 1175, 1210 and 1242 were adopted in 1998 and 1999. These further resolutions authorized the use of $300-million installments through the program to purchase equipment and spare parts for the Iraqi oil industry. How does the program operate? It should first be pointed out that Iraq does not touch one cent from the sale of its oil under the terms of the program. The proceeds from the oil sold are deposited in a "sanctions account" with the Banque Nationale de Paris in New York. Second, the oil-for-food program's name does not suit it very well . . . SCR 986, in fact, stipulates that the proceeds from the sale of Iraq's oil should be allocated in the following way: · 30% for the Fund to compensate Kuwait, companies and individuals for damage suffered as a result of the Iraqi invasion and the Gulf War; · 13% for humanitarian needs in three autonomous governorates in northern Iraq (representing 14% of the country's population) with distribution being carried out by UN agencies; · 53% for humanitarian needs for the 15 governorates in central and southern Iraq (representing 86% of the country's population) with distribution being carried out by the Iraqi government; and · 4% for the program's operating costs , distribution supervision teams, customs and oil industry inspection teams, the special disarmament commission (UNSCOM), bank charges, and so on. While the Security Council authorizes the use of oil revenues up to a value of $2 billion per six-month period (a limit that was later increased to $5.265 billion), in fact, only half of these amounts can be used to meet the needs of the 20.9 million Iraqis living under the central government's authority. On an annual basis, this represented $101.44 per person before 1998 and $267.03 per person since. According to the UN's own standards, this places the Iraqi population in a state of underdevelopment equivalent to that of certain poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The "oil for food" program is coordinated in New York by the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) with Benon Sevan as Executive Director. On a regular basis, the OIP and the United Nations Secretary-General report directly to the Security Council. In-field operations are coordinated by the office of the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI), which reports to the OIP. The UNOHCI's office has some civil servants of its own, but mainly collaborates with the many UN agencies already established in Iraq: UNICEF, WHO, FAO, WFP, UNESCO and UNDP (the United Nations Development Program). The program operates by six-month periods. Phase I began on December 10, 1996, and finished on June 7, 1997; we are currently in Phase VII. At the beginning of every new phase, the Iraqi government submits a distribution plan (DP) for the UN Secretary-General's approval. This plan lists the needs for which it plans to use the oil revenues from the next phase. On approval of the Secretary-General, the pumping and exportation of oil for that phase begins. In New York, two international oil trade experts act as supervisors and approve the sales contracts on behalf of the 661 Committee. A private company, Saybolt BV Nederland, acts as an independent inspection agent in Iraq to verify that the oil exported complies with what has been authorized in New York; a total of 14 inspectors are assigned to supervise the oil facilities and the loading and transfer of the oil. In addition, each purchase contract between Iraq and its foreign suppliers has to be submitted for approval by the 661 Sanctions Committee. After the contracts are approved, a complex supervisory network checks that the goods arrive, reach their destinations, and are used as intended; in addition, numerous observers regularly assess to what extent the purchases allowed by the program help to improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq or not. Specifically, since February 1999, the Swiss company, Cotecna Inspections SA, provides independent inspection services at the four entry points approved by the neighbouring countries . Overall, the oil-for-food program is closely monitored by a three-tier mechanism: · First, between 60 and 80 sector inspectors , belonging to various United Nations agencies, make regulars reports on the aspects of the program that fall under their agency's mandate. · Second, a special Geographic Observation Unit (GOU) verifies the actual distribution of food over the entire land area of Iraq; this unit employs 55 generalists and international experts. · Third, a special Multidisciplinary Observation Unit (MDOU) covers a wide range of fields: food, logistics, electricity, health, water and wastewater treatment, agriculture and education. This is the body that sets the standards and markers for all the supervisory and inspection work; it receives regular reports from the other two levels and can either conduct its own investigations or authorize the GOU to do so. The MDOU systematically follows up all the merchandise authorized. The UNOHCI's office also collates and synthesizes the results from the first two levels of observation. Its regular reports contribute to the UN Secretary-General's quarterly reports to the Security Council. In addition, the MDOU reports to the OIP in New York. A program that does not prevent the situation from getting worse Our delegation had a very enlightening conversation with George Somerwill, the UNOHCI's information officer. He explained to us that, in spite of the higher oil export ceiling granted Iraq, the country had not been able to reach this level during the period from February 1998 to August 1999. The very most it was able to reach was oil exports worth $3.4 billion. In the most recent phase, however, Iraq had exceeded the ceiling, not because of increased production, but because of increased prices. In fact, Iraq's oil industry infrastructure is in dire need of repair and maintenance; according to Mr. Somerwill, the industry is currently operating under worrisome conditions that pose serious risks, in terms of explosions or fires, for workers, nearby populations, and the environment, in general. The overall process has resulted in the major delays that the program suffers from. The approval of several contracts has been accelerated, but there is often a very long timelag between submission of a contract and delivery of its goods. At the time of our meeting when Phase VII was due to start, only 2-3% of Phase VI merchandise was in process of being distributed! Under the oil-for-food program, Iraq has not the option of using normal business avenues of recourse. Thus, the country is not able to reject merchandise that is defective, expired or spoiled, and then be reimbursed, if necessary. It would appear that it is always the same four or five countries (some western and some Arab) that take advantage of this situation . . . With respect to American criticism to the effect that the Iraqi government has deliberately blocked distribution of medicine, Mr. Somerwill indicated that the UNOHCI submits monthly reports on this question. He confirmed that, in February 1999, there was indeed a large quantity of medicine that was blocked. However, 85-95% of such distribution problems are caused by logistical difficulties, such as lack of means to test some of the medicine and trucks to transport refrigerated goods or delicate equipment . In certain situations, Iraq has had no choice but to store the goods and wait. The following case seems to bear this view out: dental clinic chairs worth a total of $65 million remained in storage because the contract for the compressors needed for the chairs to operate had not been approved! In addition, all Iraqi government ministries suffer from workforce shortages. While even the most experienced managerial staff earn only $5-10 per month, several quite simply just leave Iraq, while others are clearly not motivated to work. Some civil servants with the UN office in Irak explained to us that the 661 Committee is totally dominated by the United States and Great Britain. This domination is facilitated by the committee's makeup: for the most part, "junior" officers who, because they are afraid of reprisals and eager for promotion, are easily manipulated by their respective ambassadors. In practice, the American and British representatives have blocked contracts for a total value of $1.5 billion, mostly for spare parts for infrastructure and the oil industry. Iraq recently requested that the oil-for-food program include a component for housing and also cover Iraq's contribution arrears to the United Nations . Both requests were rejected. So, what's the upshot? At the time of our visit to Iraq, three independent evaluations, including two commissioned by the UN and one by Great Britain, had already concluded that the humanitarian situation in Iraq was continuing to get worse. The oil-for-food program had helped slow down this deterioration, but it had not prevented it. Its most important effect is probably the improvement in the individual food ration, which increased from 1,275 kilocalories in 1996 to around 2,200 kilocalories. However, this ration still does not contain any meat, vegetables or fruit; as a result, problems of malnutrition persist. The oil-for-food program was intended to be temporary, but it has lasted for a good number of years. It was intended to be an emergency, complementary program, but it has been asked, in practice, to substitute for the entire economy of a country with 24 million inhabitants. Thus, it is clear that the situation would have been a lot worse, if the program had not existed. However, over and above the praiseworthy intentions that probably motivate its managers and civil servants, one cannot help thinking about the particularly pernicious and obnoxious nature of this whole situation for the Iraqi people. Iraq used to be a prosperous country, but it has been almost literally "sacked" and brutal sanctions prevent it from rebuilding itself. Iraq has become a country that has been impoverished and forced, in effect, to live on an assistance program - and all at its own expense. It is a country obliged to use a major part of the meagre resources granted to it to compensate Kuwait, certain corporations and certain rich individuals, whereas its own children die at a terrifying rate, while it is not allowed to take care of them. Over and above this material deprivation, this state of affairs contains a shocking element of humiliation that has been inflicted on a very proud people. We asked Mr. Somerwill if, in practice, the oil-for-food program was not just one further sanction against Iraq. He replied: "I think that perhaps it was not intended to be, but that is certainly how it has turned out." In December 1999, the Security Council adopted resolution 1284, alleviating the embargo but making this alleviation conditional on additional inspections. The whole resolution was couched in language that will undoubtedly allow the United States and Great Britain to continue their systematic blocking within the sanctions committee. Iraqi officials explained to us that this resolution meant that there would be no major change in either the embargo or the inspection program. * * * * * X. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS It is the civilian population of Iraq that has been the first victim of the UN economic embargo, which is nothing more or less than a form of war. The oil-for-food program has not prevented a deterioration of the humanitarian situation. This deterioration has been confirmed by reports from UN organizations and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck. In fact, Mr. von Sponeck resigned because he felt that, under present conditions, he was no longer able to do his job. Sanctions have seriously affected the Iraqi economy with disastrous consequences on people's individual lives: the Iraqi population has been deprived of its most basic rights in the fields of health and education, as well as, in a possibly even greater deprivation, in terms of their right to human dignity. The Iraqi dinar is now worth no more than 1/6000th of what it was worth ten years ago. This situation has degraded all those who rely on employment income and paralyzed all government institutions responsible for social services. We were able to observe how broken down Iraq's institutions have become, both in civil society and at the government level. Iraq used to be a rich society, with oil, a significant agriculture sector, and an enviable social service system in health and education. It used to be an example for many developing countries. Years of sanctions have paralyzed this system by depriving it of financial means and certain necessary products that it is prohibited from importing. Its social services are now comparable with countries classified as "the poorest" by international institutions. In a country where social expenditures have fallen to levels 10-15% of what they were before sanctions, the country's entire social health infrastructure has been paralyzed. Millions of human beings live in miserable conditions that are a far cry from the developed system operating ten years ago. A generation of young people without future prospects is beginning to lose hope and there are many who just want to get out. Nine years of sanctions have ended up by affecting people at the most profound level of their being. The consequences of this situation on the people's health has been disastrous. Infant mortality, one of the soundest indicators to assess a country's state of health, which used to be, in Iraq, one of the lowest of all developing countries, has increased dramatically. UNICEF officials estimate that more than 500,000 of the infant deaths that have occurred in Iraq between 1991 and 1998 should be attributed to the effects of economic sanctions. Several infant illnesses, like polio, that were practically eradicated in Iraq have resurfaced after sanctions were imposed. Iraq is now experiencing a resurgence of diseases, such as measles, infantile diarrhea and tuberculosis, all symptomatic of Third World countries devastated by decades of war and famine. One in four children suffers from severe, chronic malnutrition. According to UNICEF researchers, the shortage of vital medicine and antibiotics is directly attributable to the sanctions program. An abnormally high number of children have also been found with leukemia and other forms of cancer, as well as certain congenital malformations, which several researchers attribute to the presence of depleted uranium in the munitions used by the allied forces. The Iraqi education system has been severely affected, as the inflation caused by the devaluation of the dinar has made its budget ridiculously low. We saw schools in a terrible state of repair, underpaid teachers and children too undernourished to benefit from what is left of the system. We observed the phenomenon of "street children," reflecting the alarming school dropout statistics provided by UNICEF. An entire generation, if not two, is currently being sacrificed. Although a rich cultural tradition is being maintained in spite of the embargo, cultural activities have been seriously compromised by the embargo. Two main reasons make it difficult for foreign NGOs to work in Iraq - first, the policies of their respective governments (who are often their sources of funding) and, second, the overly controlling attitude of the Iraqi authorities. The basic mindset of Iraqi officials is that their country has no need of foreign aid, but just needs to be left alone to use its own resources to develop itself. We cannot remain indifferent to this state of affairs. We consider that Canada's support of sanctions and the bombing of Iraq constitutes a grave violation of Iraqi people's human rights, rights that are recognized by the international charters Canada subscribes to. Such support contradicts the loudly proclaimed humanitarian principles that are supposed to guide Canadian foreign policy. We feel that the authoritarian character of the Iraqi regime is no justification at all for a program of sanctions that affects the civilian population of Iraq as its first victim. We believe that these sanctions are not morally or politically justifiable. AS A RESULT, · We urge the people of Quebec and other parts of Canada to express its objections to the current Canadian policy of supporting sanctions and bombing against Iraq. · We urge both individuals and associations to mobilize and support mobilization efforts to convince the Canadian government to change its policy. · We request the Canadian government to immediately withdraw its support for sanctions and bombing against Iraq, and to use its current membership of the Security Council to promote this point of view. * * * * * XI. REFERENCES The humanitarian catastrophe, caused by the 1991 bombing campaign and by the sanctions campaign that has been waged for almost ten years, is probably one of the best documented situations of this type. Here is a list of some of the reports, published by various international bodies, and the references for certain specialized journals that we have quoted: (list of 18 publications follows) -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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