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Right to Reply to Peter Hain IND 9 Aug

Dear all,

The following is to appear in tomorrow's Independent (Wed 9 Aug) as a Right
to Reply. It is not a full response - because there is a limit of 300 words.

Hope this is useful.



Response to Peter Hain's sanctions article
by Milan Rai, Voices in the Wilderness UK

I've been to children's hospitals in Iraq on sanctions-breaking delegations,
and I've seen the effects economic sanctions have had on ordinary families
in Iraq: I've seen wards full of young children dying quietly of disease and

So I feel enormous anger when I read Peter Hain's lies and evasions. ('It is
as important as ever to keep Saddam Hussein in his cage', 7 August) Typical
of his pathetic manoeuvres is his use of the fact that half of the
anti-cancer drugs delivered to Iraq remain undelivered.

Mr Hain blames this on 'Saddam's policy'. But he knows that the World Health
Organisation blames the low distribution rate on 'the recent arrival of a
large volume of supplies and the long periods required for quality testing
(21.2 per cent were undergoing quality testing)' on 1 June 2000.

Mr Hain also blames the Iraqi government for the fact that in the autonomous
northern areas, where the UN administers oil-for-food, child death rates
have been better than in government-controlled Iraq.

But he knows that UNICEF, which established these facts, says that the
difference in mortality rates 'cannot be attributed to the differing ways
the Oil for Food Program is implemented in the two parts of Iraq.'

Mr Hain says that there is no other way to stop Iraq building up 'the
weapons of mass murder'. But as the _Economist_ said in April, 'If year in,
year out, the UN were systematically killing Iraqi children by air strikes,
western governments would declare it intolerable, no matter how noble the
intention. They should find their existing policy just as unacceptable.'

Resigning from his post as UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Denis
Halliday said, 'We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is
as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.'

Milan Rai, co-coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness UK, Voices in the Wilderness UK breaks the economic
sanctions on Iraq by hand-delivering medical supplies to Iraq without an
export licence.

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