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Call for end to UN sanctions The Irish Times, July 31 The Government is being urged to take a leading role in seeking an end to UN sanctions against Iraq which are said to be responsible for the deaths of up to 6,000 children a month. Ms Felicity Arbuthnot, a British-based journalist and human rights activist, said Ireland should "get out from un der the American flag" and lobby its European Union partners for a lifting of the trade embargo. Ireland was well placed to address the issue, given its neutral status and traditional economic ties with Iraq, she said. "It would be great if it took the lead by becoming the first EU country to open its embassy again in Baghdad." She was speaking in advance of a protest rally at 6 p.m. today at the US embassy in Dublin to mark the 10th anniversary this week of the imposition of sanctions. Ms Arbuthnot recently returned from her 22nd visit to Iraq since the end of the Gulf War. On each visit, she said, "there was always a new horror story". Hospitals were short of the most basic medical supplies and equipment. UNICEF recently estimated that more than 500,000 underfives had died between 1991 and 1998 because of the sanctions. Others put the death toll even higher and said conditions were getting worse. Mr Denis Halliday, who resigned two years ago as coordinator of the UN oil-forfood programme after con demning the scheme as "futile and bankrupt", estimated that since then the death rate had increased by up to a third to one every eight minutes. His successor, Mr Hans von Sponeck, also resigned in protest this year. Ms Arbuthnot said the sanctions were inhumane and counter-productive and had helped to strengthen Saddam Hussein's hold on power. Despite growing disquiet internationally, the United States and the UN Security Council have refused to countenance a change in policy. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Cowen, has expressed concern about the sanctions but said Ireland was constrained by UN resolutions from acting unilaterally. Ms Arbuthnot said the Government was also bound by UN charters on human rights and the rights of the child "and as a signatory to those it is obliged to act". -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi