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Traduction en anglais du rapport

---------------------- Envoyée par Amir Khadir/CHLG/Reg14/SSSS le 21/04/2000
13:12 ---------------------------

"Robinson, Svend - M.P." <> le 20/04/2000 14:55:19

Pour :    Amir Khadir/CHLG/Reg14/SSSS
cc :

Objet :   Traduction en anglais du rapport


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
(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

Bonne journée et bonne fin de semaine !

Éric Hébert
Adjoint du député Svend Robinson

(quote from Denis Halliday)






JANUARY 4 - 15, 2000




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

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
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


...... 2

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............... 16

.................... 18

WOMEN................................................... 25

DIMENSION.......................................................... 25


PROGRAM...................................................... 28

X. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS........................................

.............. 37

 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

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.

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

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

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

§ 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

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.

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
· 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

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

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

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

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.
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.

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.

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.

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


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%.
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

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.


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

Iraq: Mortality rate for children under five

(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

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%       +
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           +
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
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).


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

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
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

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.


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)


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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

*     *     *     *     *

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.


· 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

· 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.

*     *     *     *     *

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)
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