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News, 14­20/8/00

NEWS, 14 ­ 20/8/00

*  U.S. bombs Iraq for 2nd day
*  Saddam seeks Russian missile deal
*  Iraqi child blinded by cancer flies to US for treatment
*  Iraq food deal 'must improve'
*  U.S. disputes Iraqi claims over damage in bombing
*  Iraq reopens Baghdad airport
*  Iraq to exit OPEC Sec-Gen race if Caracas steps in
*  Iran informs UN on 75 instances of cease-fire violation by Iraq
*  Iranian armed opposition says Tehran forces shell one of its Iraq camps
*  Iraq and Sudan sign economic cooperation agreement
*  Turkey acknowledges Iraqi air raid, probes casualty claims
*  UN rights body calls for lifting Iraq embargo
*  Russian delegation discusses oil cooperation with Iraq
*  US sanction-busters hope to raise awareness for Iraqi children at home

*  U.S. BOMBS IRAQ FOR 2ND DAY (New York Daily News)

BAGHDAD. 14/8/00.  U.S. and British warplanes attacked targets in southern
Iraq for a second straight day.

The latest air strike damaged a train station and injured at least three
people in Samawa, 170 miles south of Baghdad, a senior Iraqi military
officer claimed yesterday.

The Iraqis said the strikes came a day after earlier air strikes in the same
city killed two people and injured 19 others.

The U.S. Central Command confirmed the strikes, saying allied aircraft
targeted two Iraqi air defense sites after anti-aircraft artillery fired on
planes patrolling the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.

The U.S. statement did not mention Iraq's claims of two dead, but said
allied air strikes "do not target civilian populations or infrastructure"
and seek to avoid civilian casualties.

Lt. General Shaheen Yassin Ahmad, commander of the Iraqi Air Defense, told
reporters that the allied planes are targeting homes and civilian structures
"from the Saudi and Kuwaiti skies."

"This train station is used to serve the people," Ahmad said.

The attacks ended a six-week lull in air strikes, which used to take place
almost daily.

The last raids that Iraq said caused casualties came June 29, when Baghdad
said U.S. and British warplanes killed one civilian and injured another.

The United States and Britain have been enforcing the no-fly zones since the
end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

by Michael Evans, Defence Editor (Sunday Times, 14/8/00)

IRAQ is secretly negotiating with Russian companies to set up a plant making
key components of ballistic missiles, Western intelligence sources have

Having expelled United Nations arms inspectors, President Saddam Hussein
seems determined to develop a long-range missile facility and is counting on
Russian help.

The latest meetings are believed to have focused on constructing a plant for
the production of gyroscopes - advanced navigation and guidance components
for long-range ballistic missiles.

Under the UN agreement after the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam is allowed to develop
only short-range ballistic missiles. Intelligence reports say the proposed
factory is expected to be built south of Baghdad at a cost of £10 million
and may be completed by next year.

If the deal were to go ahead, in breach of the UN arms embargo, Russian
engineers would be involved in building and running the plant and the
equipment would be shipped to Beirut before being transported to Baghdad.

The Iraqi authority believed to be behind the deal is the Ministry for
Military Industry. Co operation with the Russians is believed to have
started last year when a senior official from the Iraqi military industry
visited Russia. Further visits to Moscow by senior officials have since been
noted. Sultan Hashim Ahmad, the Iraqi Defence Minister, went to Moscow in

Iraq has always turned to Russia as a primary source for its
ballistic-missile programme although it maintains equipment procurement ties
with other countries, including China and Ukraine.

The main reason is that the technology Saddam wants originates from Russia
and his plan, according to intelligence sources, is to achieve complete
independence in the production of key components for the long-range

The Iraqi Military Industry Ministry is known to have set up a large network
of front companies to disguise procurement deals for projects forbidden
under the UN embargo.


AMMAN, Aug 14 (Agence France Presse) - A blind six-year-old Iraqi cancer
patient who has become a symbol of suffering Iraqis under UN sanction was
flown Monday to the United States for medical treatment thanks to US donors.

Maryam Motaab, who was blinded by leukaemia in 1999 and suffers from a
defective nervous system, was accompanied on the trip by her grandmother, a
Jordanian member of a support committee for Iraq told AFP.

"She left for New York on a flight of the Royal Jordanian national carrier,
which paid for both seats," and then she will travel to hospital in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Fawaz Zureikat said.

"Maryam will be treated free of charge by Doctor Ali Aboosi while the stay
in the United States will be footed by the Bruderhof Communities," a US
non-governmental group campaigning for a lifting of the UN sanctions, he

"The medical treatment will seek to restore Maryam's sight thanks to
sophisticated medical equipment," Zureikat said, adding that the US embassy
in Amman provided the visas necessary for entry into the United States.

Maryam's flight to the United States comes as Jordan's professional unions
launch a three-day seminar Monday on the consequences of the sanctions on
the Iraqi people as part of a campaign to lift them.

Jordan's government and people have repeatedly called for an end to the
sanctions which they say are only harming the people of Iraq and
contributing to a severe deterioration in the country's health services.

British MP George Galloway found Maryam in a Baghdad hospital two years ago
and arranged for her to travel to Britain for treatment.

Maryam suffered a serious relapse last October and was rushed to Jordan for
treatment at a Amman cancer clinic.

Galloway, a member of the ruling Labour party, used the girl's name for the
Maryam Appeal Campaign he established to draw international attention to the
health situation in Iraq.

A UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) report published last August found that child
mortality rates had more than doubled in central and southern Iraq since
sanctions were first imposed following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

*  IRAQ FOOD DEAL 'MUST IMPROVE' (BBC News Online, 15 August, 2000)

The head of the United Nations oil-for-food programme in Iraq has urged a
fresh approach and more flexibility.

Benon Sevan said there was room for improvement by all parties in the
humanitarian programme, under which Iraq is allowed to sell oil to buy food,
medicines and other essential goods.

He was speaking at the end of a 17-day visit to Iraq, during which he has
met Iraqi officials who are calling for a review of the aid programme.

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the
oil-for-food deal set up in 1996.

Baghdad has often complained of delays in the arrival of supplies which have
to be vetted by the UN sanctions committee. It also accuses the United
States and Britain of blocking contracts with foreign suppliers.

"Without breaking rules and procedures, I think we can use the rules more
credibly and avoid, on the one hand, putting in place procedures to expedite
and, on the other hand, not allowing its full implementation," Mr Sevan told

"There has to be a concerted effort to move forward."

Mr Sevan, who is due to leave Iraq on Wednesday, said his role was not a
political one. He said his job centred only on improving the aid programme.

"We are trying to persuade all concerned that the issue should be
humanitarian and maintain this distinct identity despite all differences
among the members of the Security Council," he said.

"The programme was never meant to solve all the problems of the Iraqi people
and not all the needs of the Iraqis.

"It is becoming worse because, as the years go by, the needs are getting
more acute."

Mr Sevan said an "excessive" number of holds on purchasing contracts were
seriously hindering the humanitarian programme - contracts worth $1.7bn in

They included materials for electricity, telecommunications, transport and
water and sanitation, essential to the oil industry

"Iraq is producing and exporting oil at a very high price ... as it is
damaging its wells, some of them irrevocably," said Mr Sevan.

A senior Iraqi Oil Ministry official said last week that unless spare parts
were approved soon Iraq would have to cut its production level, currently
3.1 million barrels per day.

On his arrival in Baghdad Mr Sevan said some changes had already been made
to speed up the delivery of supplies to Iraq.

He said the UN committee had agreed "on a list of parts and equipment which
would be approved by a group of (technical) experts" rather than the
committee itself.

He also said lists had been drawn up of food, health, educational and
agricultural products that would not need to be submitted to the sanctions
committee for approval.

by Steven Lee Myers

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 -- American officials said today that a warehouse bombed
by American and British warplanes on Friday in southern Iraq held
antiaircraft weapons and other military equipment, and not supplies of food
as the Iraqis claimed.

The officials also disputed Iraq's claims that a second attack on Saturday
damaged a train station in the same town. In fact, they said, the Americans
and British destroyed two antiaircraft batteries half a mile away.

The airstrikes over the weekend, which the Iraqis said killed 2 and wounded
more than 20, prompted a flurry of denunciations. Iraq's foreign minister,
Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf, wrote to the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi
Annan, and accused the United States and Britain of "spitting their venom at
innocent Iraqis."

Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, echoed those protests today, saying
the strikes violated international law and should end immediately. "Already
suffering from an embargo, simple Iraqis are the first to suffer from the
destruction of food depots," Mr. Ivanov said.
The strikes were in Samawa, a city that is about 170 miles south of Baghdad
and inside the "no flight" zone that American and British aircraft have
patrolled in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf war.

To undercut the claims, American military officials took the unusual step
today of discussing classified assessments of the bombing, including aerial
photographs and other intelligence reports.

Lt. Cmdr. Ernest L. Duplessis of the Navy, a spokesman for the United States
Central Command, which overseas all American forces in the region, said
there was no evidence that the warehouse in Samawa contained food or other
routine supplies, but rather was being used by Iraqi forces.

"The building was used to store air defense equipment and weapons,"
Commander Duplessis said. "We are very confident saying that facility was
not used for humanitarian food stores."

Reuters reported that one of its photographers was escorted to the site
after the bombing and did not see any Iraqi military units in the area. The
photographer also reported seeing several nearby homes that were severely

However, an administration official said that an aerial photograph taken in
the hours before the attack showed an array of antiaircraft batteries
surrounding the warehouse.

Commander Duplessis and officials in Washington did not dispute the report
that people were killed in the strikes or that homes may have been damaged,
but said the pilots do not intentionally strike civilians or non-military

They also said the pilots attack only when Iraqi forces fire on them first
as they course over the "no-flight" zones in northern and southern Iraq.

The weekend strikes seemed to signal an intensification of fighting in the
zones. American and British jets have regularly clashed with Iraqi forces
there ever since December 1998, when the United States and Britain began
four nights of airstrikes to punish Iraq for refusing to cooperate with
United Nations weapons inspectors.

In recent weeks, there had been something of a lull in what has become an
low-intensity war of attrition. Before the most recent strikes, there had
not been a clash in southern Iraq since July 22.

In northern Iraq, American and British jets attacked Iraqi forces today for
the first time since June 14, striking an air-defense site near the city of
Mosul after Iraqi forces opened fire with antiaircraft weapons, according a
spokesman for the United States European Command, which overseas the patrols
in northern Iraq.

Neither the Americans nor the Iraqis mentioned any deaths in the strikes
today, but the Iraqi News Agency said the warplanes attacked civilian

Iraq has not recognized the "no-flight" zones, but aside from firing
antiaircraft weapons or surface to-air missiles, it has done little to
seriously challenge the patrols.

The strikes followed a period of increasingly pointed accusations by Iraq,
particularly against Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey, which provide bases
for the American and British jets patrolling the zones.

*  IRAQ REOPENS BAGHDAD AIRPORT (Financial Times, 17/8/00))

Iraq announced on Thursday the reopening of Baghdad international airport
after 10 years of enforced closure, but the move remained symbolic given the
lack of prospect for a lifting of U.N. sanctions in the near future.

An Iraqi Airways plane carrying passengers from western Iraq landed at a
deserted Saddam International Airport during the climax of an official

Iraqi officials took reporters on a tour of the facility with its
refurbished passenger terminal, including duty-free shops.

Civilian air traffic at the airport ceased when international sanctions were
imposed on Iraq days after President Saddam Hussein sent his forces into
Kuwait in August 1990. That made Baghdad among the few capitals in the world
inaccessible by scheduled international flights.

Iraq says there are no U.N. Security Council resolutions, governing the 1991
Gulf War ceasefire, that prevent Baghdad from flying civilian planes into
and out of the country.

"Our message to all friends ... is that they are welcome to use this
airport," Transport Minister Ahmed Murtada Ahmed Khalil told reporters at
the airport.

"There is absolutely no (U.N.) decision to ban flights to and from Iraq.
This is an American, British and Zionist decision," he said, adding that
several airlines from friendly states had expressed willingness to fly to

The U.N. sanctions committee on Iraq maintains that civil flights to and
from Iraq are an economic resource whose reinstatement would breach the
sanctions regime.

Iraq dispersed 37 passenger airliners to foreign airports shortly before the
Gulf War to protect them against possible bombing. They have been stranded
at those airports since.

The sanctions committee has previously turned down a request from Baghdad to
fly the airliners home to Iraq.

Since 1997, Iraq has defied U.N. sanctions by sending civilian planes laden
with Moslem pilgrims to perform the haj in Saudi Arabia.

Iraqi officials say pro-Iraq French politicians and other figures plan a
sanctions-busting flight to Baghdad next month.;


LONDON, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Iraq is prepared to withdraw its candidate for
OPEC's top job in favour of a Venezuelan candidate if Caracas puts forward
its own contender, a senior Iraqi official said on Friday.

This promise came directly from Saddam Hussein to Hugo Chavez as part of a
broader political/commercial deal between Caracas and Baghdad, the Iraqi
official told Reuters, referring to the two countries' presidents.

Chavez paid a visit last week to Saddam -- the first by an elected leader in
a decade -- as part of a tour to invite personally all 10 fellow OPEC
leaders to Caracas next month for the oil cartel's first summit for heads of
state in 25 years.

Iraq took the initiative on this matter to show our appreciation to
Venezuela, said the Iraqi official.

There has been a stalemate over the Secretary General position since late
last year when Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq each put their own candidate in
the ring.

Baghdad is backing Abdul al-Anbari, Iraq's former U.N. ambassador and chief
negotiator for the U.N. oil-for-food programme.

Riyadh is supporting its OPEC governor Suleiman al-Herbish and Tehran is
throwing its weight behind Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, its OPEC governor.

If Venezuela agrees to nominate a candidate for Secretary General, Iraq will
withdraw and vote for Venezuela, said the Iraqi source.

But if Saudi Arabia pressures Venezuela to withdraw, we will use our veto
against the Saudis.

Chavez did not commit to nominating a candidate, but is studying
possibilities back in Caracas, the Iraqi official said.

But if Venezuela does not put forward a candidate, Iraq will continue to
endorse Anbari.

OPEC was supposed to choose a new man for its top job when it met last
September amid the heated competition between Kazempour and Herbish.

It failed to reach consensus and the cartel decided to extend the term of
its current secretary general, Nigeria's Rilwanu Lukman.

Text of report on Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran 18th August
from BBC Monitoring Service

The Islamic Republic of Iran has informed the UN secretary-general on new
instances of cease-fire violation by Iraq.

The letter of our country's representative office at the UN, which was
published as a document of the Security Council, says that Iraq violated the
cease-fire on 75 occasions. According to this letter, these instances
include: Iraqi troops crossed the border into Iran and began firing shots,
the hypocrites [members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization - MKO] fired
mortar launchers from Iraq into Iran's territory, the Iraqi patrol boats
carried out operations in Arvand Rud [Shatt al Arab], Iraqi troops carried
out patrol operations and troop movements along the border areas close to
Iran, illuminating flares were fired by the Iraqis along the border and they
attempted to erect observation posts in the border regions.


DUBAI, Aug 18 (Agence France Presse) - The Iraq-based armed Iranian
opposition said that one of its camps in southern Iraq had come under mortar
attack by Iranian forces in the early hours of Friday morning, causing no
casualties in the camp, but with some mortars landing on nearby civilian

"Revolutionary Guards and the clerical regime's terrorists crossed
international borders and attacked with 120mm mortars the National
Liberation Army's Camp Habib," said a statement by the People's Mujahedeen
received by AFP here.

"Heavy and immediate return fire" forced the attackers to flee across the
border almost immediately, the statement said.

"Mujahedeen sustained no casualties or damages ... and the mortars landed in
defenceless villages and surrounding residential areas, inflicting some
material damage on them," it added.

It said the camp was 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of the southern port
city of Basrah.

The commander of the forces at Camp Habib responded by warning the Iranian
authorities that "from now on, for every single bullet fired, the regime wil
face a response ten times stronger."

In the last three weeks, the Mujahedeen has said it has killed or wounded
"dozens" of Iranian forces in a series of attacks and ambushes it has
conducted in border provinces of western Iran.

It has also carried out a number of mortar attacks against official targets
in the capital Tehran.

The presence of the Mujahedeen in Iraq is one of the main stumbling blocks
to the normalisation of relations between Tehran and Baghdad, who have not
signed a peace treaty after the eight year conflict between them which ended
in 1988.
=iraq&resultsShown=20&resultsToRequest=100 Search & the web  BBC

17/8/00, from BBC Monitoring Service)

Iraq and Sudan today signed the minutes of following up works of the joint
Iraqi-Sudanese committee in its 14th session. The minutes were signed by
Director General of the Economic Relations Department at the Trade Ministry,
Mr Fakhr al-Din Muhammad Husayn, on the Iraqi side, and Undersecretary of
Agriculture Mr Abd-al-Razzaq Bashir on the Sudanese side. The minutes imply
that implementation of the committee's programmes in a way as serving the
promotion of economic and trade relations between both countries.


ANKARA, Aug 18 (Agence France-Presse) - Turkey admitted Friday that it had
launched an operation against Turkish Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and
said it was investigating claims by Iraqi factions in the area that
civilians were killed in the strike.

"Turkey carries out operations in northern Iraq from time to time as part of
the combat against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)," a spokesman
for the Turkish foreign ministry, Huseyin Dirioz, said.

Dirioz said such military operations started only after measures were taken
to prevent any harm to civilians in the Kurdish-held enclave.

"In a similar operation on the 15th of August, necessary measures were taken
once again to ensure that the civilian population would not be harmed,"
Dirioz said.

"Nonetheless, we are investigating claims that civilians were hurt in the
operation," he added.

The Turkish reaction came in reponse to claims by two northern Iraqi Kurdish
factions that an air raid by Turkish planes against PKK targets in the
mountainous area left dozens killed and several other injured.

Dirioz did not specify the nature of Tuesday's operation by Turkey.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls part of northern Iraq,
said in a statement late Thursday that the Turkish air strike had left 38
civilians killed, 11 injured and four missing.

"A southern camp containing peasants and their families was hit Wednesday in
a raid by Turkish planes who were attacking PKK targets in the border
triangle between Iraq, Iran and Turkey," the KDP said.

The Iraqi Communist party (ICP) on Friday put the toll of the Turkish air
raid, during which the planes dropped 12 bombs, at 41 civilians, mostly
women and children, and 57 injured.

The ICP statement said "the Turkish planes perpetrated a new massacre
against the inhabitants of the villages of Lulan and Khazina" in the
northeast province of Erbil Tuesday.

Turkey's military frequently mounts operations against PKK rebel camps
inside northern Iraq, a region which has been outside the control of the
Baghdad government since the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

Some 36,500 people have been killed in clashes between Turkish troops and
the PKK since 1984, when the rebels took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in
southeast Turkey.

The Turkish army believes hundreds of PKK rebels have crossed into northern
Iraq after the rebel organization said last September that it would stop
fighting against Ankara and withdraw from its territory to seek a peaceful
resolution to the conflict.

The PKK peace pledges have been brushed aside by the army which has vowed to
continue hunting down the rebels.

In July 1999, tension between Turkey and its eastern neighbour Iran rose
when Tehran claimed that five people were killed and 10 injured in a Turkish
air raid in its northwestern border region.

Ankara denied the claims, saying Turkish planes had carried out a raid on a
PKK camp in northern Iraq, which might have resulted in the death of some
Iranians who might have infiltrated the region.

Tension was reduced after security officials from both countries signed an
agreement in Ankara in August last year to cooperate against terrorist
groups along their joint border.

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters, 18/8/00) - A U.N. human rights body called on Friday for
the lifting of 10 year-old sanctions on Iraq, saying they had ³condemned an
innocent people to hunger, disease, ignorance and even death.''

The United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human
Rights also adopted a separate resolution urging states to reconsider their
support for economic sanctions in general if they failed to bring about the
desired changes in policy.

The sub-commission, composed of 26 human rights experts named by their
respective governments to serve in a personal capacity, adopted the two
resolutions without a vote on the final day of their annual three-week
meeting in Geneva.

It was the fourth year in a row that the body dealt with the controversial
issue of Iraqi sanctions.

This week's debate became heated after Belgium's member called the sanctions
³unequivocally illegal'' which had caused a humanitarian disaster
³comparable to the worst catastrophes of the past decades.''

The resolution proposed by Morocco's representative urged all governments,
including that of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein, to alleviate the Iraqi
people's suffering by facilitating the delivery of food and medical

Iraq has been under an international economic and trade embargo since its
August 1990 invasion of oil-rich Kuwait.

The text said statistics issued by the U.N. oil-for-food program, which
since December 1996 has allowed Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to
buy food, medicine and other essentials, showed the deal was meeting ³only
part of the vital needs of the population.''

It noted with concern that ³the standard of living, nutrition and health of
the population were continuing to deteriorate and that all economic
activities were seriously affected, particularly in the areas of drinking
water supply, electricity and agriculture.''

The Iraq resolution invoked the 1949 Geneva Conventions which it said
³prohibit the starving of civilian populations and the destruction of what
is indispensable to their survival.''

In the second resolution, put forward by Norway's member, the Sub-Commission
urged states to reconsider their support for sanctions ³even when legitimate
goals pursued have not yet been achieved, if, after a reasonable period, the
measures have not brought about the desired changes in policy.''

It urged states to seek ³prompt termination of all aspects of sanctions
regimes that adversely affect human rights.''

On Thursday, the United States hit out angrily at the Belgian's report.
George Moose, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told the
forum that his claim that the sanctions were illegal was ³incorrect, biased
and inflammatory.''

³The United States has worked hard to ensure that the welfare of the Iraqi
people is protected, in stark contrast to the appalling behavior of an Iraqi
regime which has shown itself to be completely insensitive to the suffering
of its own people,'' Moose told the Sub-Commission.

The United States strongly opposes any lifting of the sanctions which have
now entered their 11th year, and maintains that Saddam is responsible for
the suffering of his people.



BAGHDAD, Aug 20 (Agence France-Presse) - An official Russian delegation held
talks here Sunday with the under-secretary of Iraq's oil ministry, Fayez
Shahin, about prospects for Russian companies in developing Iraq's energy
resources, the official INA news agency reported.

"The two sides discussed ways to increase the contribution of Russian oil
companies to the development of Iraqi fields and implementing the agreement
to train Iraqi oilmen in Russia," INA said.

Russia is anxious to resume cooperation with Iraq, in the hope of recovering
the huge debts estimated at several billion dollars which Baghdad contracted
with the Soviet Union.

A Russian oil consortium, headed by the country's biggest oil company,
LUKoil, won a tender in 1995 to develop Iraq's West Qurna field.

The two sides signed a production-sharing agreement in 1997 and scientific
work has already been carried out at the site.

However, no development can take place until the stringent UN sanctions
against Iraq have been lifted which were imposed in 1990 in the wake of its
invasion of Kuwait.

Baghdad is anxious to see the work underway, and last year accused Russian
and Chinese companies which had won tenders to develop its southern sites of
breaking their commitments, and threatened to review their contracts.

LUKoil called for sanctions to be lifted to enable it to honour its

Iraq has put at 30 billion dollars the amount of investment needed to
develop its oil sector, of which 15 billion is to go to new fields to enable
it to double its production capacity to six million barrels per day.

The Russian delegation arrived in Baghdad Saturday on a direct flight from
Moscow, for which it did not request UN authorisation.


AMMAN, Aug 20 (Agence France-Presse) - A group of US citizens visited Iraq
earlier this month in an attempt to draw international attention to the
"horrifying" plight of Iraqi children suffering because of US-led UN
sanctions, one of them told AFP on Sunday.

"I was most struck about the total suffering, not only of the children who
are dying of treatable diseases but also the suffering of doctors who know
how to treat those diseases but cannot," Philip Seger said.

"Doctors complained they cannot treat or diagnose diseases because hospitals
are deficient in every aspect as a result of the sanctions," Seger said.

Doctors also say lack of food, malnutrition in pregnant mothers and
insufficient medical care during pregnancy is causing malformations in
newborn babies.

"Doctor Janan Ghalib, a pediatrician at the Basra general hospital, told us
that this year alone she had delivered 36 congenitally malformed children.
She showed us pictures of newborns who looked like watermelons - some had no
face, just a mouth, a flap in the skull," he said.

"For most people in the world, the birth of a child is a happy expection but
for mothers in Basra and elsewhere in Iraq it can be a horrifying experience
and Doctor Ghalib said women weep in terror because they are afraid they
might give birth to a monster," Steger added.

A UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) report published last August found that child
mortality rates had more than doubled in central and southern Iraq since
sanctions were first imposed following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Seger was among a seven-member delegation from the non-government Voice in
the Wilderness organisation that visited several children's hospitals in
Baghdad and the southern town of Basra from August 9 to August 17.

A 26-year-old farm worker who also works for a homeless-shelter group, Seger
was accompanied on the journey by a high school teacher, a lawyer, a nurse,
a photo journalist and a videographer.

They took with them medicine, water purifiers, school supplies and seeds
donated by 200 people from Seattle, Washington.

Videographer Tom Jackson of Boston, Massachussets, also took with him 360
blood bags which he gave to the Red Cross blood bank in Basra, Steger said.

The group also linked up with a six-member delegation of Voices in the
Wilderness who are completing a two-month stay in Basra, which they begun in
July, in solidarity with the sanctions hit people there.

That group, all of whom are also US citizen, are staying with Iraqi
families, sharing their rationed food in dire living conditions, with little
or no access to clean water or electricity.

Basra is Iraq's second city and has suffered widespread damage to its
infrastructure during the 1991 Gulf war.

"American people must be able to see Iraqis with a human face and not the
face of a demon or the face of (President) Saddam Hussein," Seger said.

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