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An interesting article ... -----Original Message----- From: US-IRAQ Policy from the Department of State [mailto:US-IRAQPOLICY@LISTS.STATE.GOV]On Behalf Of USINFO Iraq Sent: Monday, April 24, 2000 11:58 PM To: US-IRAQPOLICY@LISTS.STATE.GOV Subject: Cong. Tony Hall on Humanitarian Aid to Iraq Congressman Hall's Remarks on Humanitarian Aid to Iraq (Calls for more effective response to suffering of Iraqi people) Congressman Tony Hall, Democrat of Ohio, says Iraq's people are suffering terribly and he has called on the U.S. for a more effective response to their suffering. Hall visited Iraq April 16-20, touring hospitals, schools, clinics and water-treatment plants in Baghdad, Basra, Babylon, Samawah and Nasiriyah. "I left Iraq convinced that a great deal more could be done to address its people's humanitarian needs, and I am determined to do all I can to persuade the U.S. Government to take these steps," he said April 24 at a press briefing on his trip. Hall, who is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Hunger, co-founder on the steering committee of the Congressional Friends of Human Rights Monitors and is chairman of the Congressional Hunger Center, said delays in the delivery of humanitarian supplies and equipment to Iraq must stop. He also said he was troubled by Iraq's recent attempt to reject Canada's offer of a significant contribution to UNICEF's operations there. Hall called upon the government of Iraq and other governments to allow more humanitarian workers to go to Iraq to deal with the health and economic crises there. The Congressman said one in six children in Iraq shows signs of malnutrition and 10 percent of the children in the areas of the country controlled by Saddam Hussein are classified as "wastie" or those who have actually stopped growing. He noted that in Iraq, the "infant mortality rate is higher than any other place in the world." Additionally, he said the Iraqi population has been exposed to the six major diseases that cause mortality as well as polio and cholera and he urged the surrounding countries to help because it is in their self-interest to protect themselves from these deadly diseases. Hall also called for the World Health Organization or some other independent scientific body to find out why there is high incidence of leukemia in southern Iraq. Hall said "sanctions clearly have played a role in Iraqis' suffering," but "it would be irresponsible to lift the sanctions." He expressed concern that Iraq continues to pose a threat to its neighbors with its weapons of mass destruction and suggested that if Iraq eliminated its weapons of mass destruction and kept its promises made after the Gulf war to abide by the U.N. resolutions, "perhaps that would prompt good faith measures by the United Nations -- such as adding a sunset provision to some of the economic sanctions." Hall, who is a long-time humanitarian activist, was in 1998 and 1999 nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his hunger legislation and for his proposal for a Humanitarian Summit in the Horn of Africa. He has worked actively to improve human rights conditions around the world, especially in the Philippines, East Timor, Paraguay, South Korea, Romania, and the former Soviet Union. In 1983 he founded the Congressional Friends of Human Rights Monitors. He was the principal U.S. nominator of East Timor Bishop Carlos Belo, winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize. Following is the text of Hall's remarks: (begin text) Congressman Tony P. Hall U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 April 24, 2000 HALL CALLS FOR SMARTER U.N. SANCTIONS THAT SPARE INNOCENT IRAQIS Suffering -- especially among children -- is real and severe, says first US official to examine Iraq's humanitarian situation since Gulf War WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, today called for an end to efforts to demonize Iraq's people - and for a more effective response to their suffering from officials charged with supervising Iraq's purchase of humanitarian supplies. He also said that lifting sanctions at this point would be irresponsible. Hall visited Iraq April 16-20, touring hospitals, schools, clinics and water-treatment plants in Baghdad, Basra, Babylon, Samawah and Nasiriyah. He was accompanied in Iraq by representatives of the Red Crescent, Red Cross, UNICEF, and others and met with aid workers, Western diplomats, and Iraq's Minister of Health. His statement on his trip to Iraq follows: "Iraq's people are suffering terribly, and it was heartbreaking to see their pain firsthand. I left Iraq convinced that a great deal more could be done to address its people's humanitarian needs, and I am determined to do all I can to persuade the U.S. Government to take these steps. "But, like the majority of American citizens, I remain concerned about the military threat Iraq continues to pose to its neighbors and the world -- and convinced that until progress is made on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, lifting sanctions would be irresponsible. "I wish that I could support lifting sanctions: many religious leaders, aid workers, and other people I respect oppose them. I am troubled, though, that some opponents of sanctions don't focus as much attention on Iraq's government as I believe they should. "While sanctions clearly have played a role in Iraqis' suffering, though, lifting them would not provide much comfort to citizens there. If Iraq's government would show it is serious about easing its people's suffering - instead of using their problems to support its bid to end sanctions - it would be easier for me to see sanctions as the primary culprit. Or, if Iraq would show good faith in keeping the promises it made at the end of the Gulf War, perhaps that would prompt good faith measures by the United Nations -- such as adding a sunset provision to some of the economic sanctions. "I am hopeful that Iraq is realizing the long-term human cost of its strategies, and I will look for signs that it will set more humane priorities in the near future. For example, trying to mask dual-use or other prohibited items by inserting them into contracts for humanitarian goods is counterproductive. Iraq's government knows those efforts only result in the delay of needed food, medicine and other humanitarian items. I was also troubled by Iraq's recent attempt to reject Canada's offer of a significant contribution to UNICEF's operations there. "That said, I also believe the U.N.'s Sanctions Committee, and particularly its U.S. representatives, ought to use much better judgment. For example, American officials tell me that only a small percentage of items raise security concerns -- but those concerns hold up entire shipments of humanitarian goods. Surely, the U.N. could employ a line-item veto approach -- allowing what is permitted under the sanctions, barring what is not, and paying only for what is sent to Iraq. If the U.N. Sanctions Committee's top priority were humanitarian, as I believe it should be, this would be a way to quickly resolve many of the causes of Iraqis' difficulties. "I appreciate the high priority my country puts on security considerations. But there are humanitarian standards that are equally central to America's character. There also are political realities that should make us think twice about the wisdom of a crippled nation in this dangerous Middle East neighborhood. I hope that U.S. policymakers can better balance these competing concerns and redouble efforts to heal this festering sore. "There are some confidence-building measures the United States could take, to demonstrate its concern for Iraqis' suffering. For example, I hope our government will support a scientific study by the World Health Organization of the effects of depleted uranium (DU) and other potential pollutants on Iraqi civilians -- who are suffering very high rates of leukemia. Not only could work like this engage representatives of the international community and Iraqis in constructive work together; it also could yield health benefits for American veterans of the Gulf War as well as Iraqi civilians. "I fear that no matter how quickly sanctions are lifted, the future of most of the people I met in Iraq will be bleak. That is because its children are in bad shape, with a quarter of them underweight and one in 10 wasting away because of hunger and disease. The leading cause of childhood death, diarrhea, is 11 times more prevalent in Iraq than elsewhere -- and while polio has been wiped out throughout the Mideast, it has returned to plague Iraq's people. Schools and water systems -- the infrastructure any nation's future depends upon -- are decrepit and hospitals lack basic medicine and equipment. Ordinary civilians have exhausted their resources and their health trying to survive on $2-6 per month. "The country's isolation has made it easy for some to demonize its people, and for Iraq's government to denounce Westerners. Blocking Iraqis' access to outside information contributes nothing to positive change, and this policy's result is innocent people who seem angry and past hoping for a different life. A Christian minister working in Iraq summed up the situation this way: 'The children in Iraq no longer know how to dream,' he said. "It will take Iraqi people a generation to recover from their present situation. Sanctions imposed by the United Nations are partly to blame, but it is the stalemate - and not the sanctions - that causes Iraqis to suffer. I want to see all concerned look harder for ways to rebuild the confidence needed to end this stalemate. "Finally, I want to commend the superb work that UNICEF, Care, and other organizations are doing under difficult circumstances. I particularly appreciated the efforts of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society in helping to make my trip a success." Hall first became involved in humanitarian work when he served in the Peace Corps 30 years ago. In recent years, he has focused his legislative and other efforts on fighting hunger and the other problems that affect the poor of the United States and other nations and has recently visited North Korea, Sierra Leone, Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Sudan. (end text) (Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. 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