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Hello. Glenn Bassett from Voices here. Voices UK has been circulating campaigning letters and helping people to answer the letters they get back from the Foreign Office for over two years now. Building on our experience, we are calling together a monthly letter-writing group, which will operate at least until the next General Election. The purpose is to make our letter-writing campaign more organised and effective, and to enrol more letter-writers. If you can spare 20 minutes at the beginning of every month for the next six months or so, please do join the group. We believe that letter-writing is a very valuable part of the campaign. Members of the Letter Writing Group will receive notes for letters to send to decision-makers; and briefings giving you the facts you need. If you would like to join the group, please email me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> . For the next two weeks I will not be at my computer. For those who wish to get cracking right away below are the notes that we hope will be useful for this month's letter. Obviously people are free to write what they choose, but at the same time we feel it would be a good idea to have many letters focusing on a particular theme each month. Hence the notes. ***Please*** do send us copies of the letters you send, and any replies you receive. This will enable use to compose quick and comprehensive responses. Thanks, Glenn. Notes for September letter Letter to MPs. The point of this letter is to try to tackle one of the lies the Government is spreading around. Having made clear how concerned you are about the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, you may want to use some of the points listed below (supplemented by material from the newsletter, perhaps). Point 1 The scale of the problem In Iraq 700,000 children under five are chronically malnourished - which can lead to lifelong physical and mental stunting. (UN Secretary-General, 10 Mar. 2000) Point 2 Misleading statistics The Government suggests that because, in the year ahead, Iraq could earn £8.2bn for humanitarian and food purposes through the 'oil-for-food' programme, only Baghdad is responsible for the condition of the Iraqi people. a) The Government never actually says that Iraq's humanitarian crisis can be solved by £8.2bn ($12bn) worth of public spending. Please ask: Is this your MP's belief? Is it the Government's belief? Could your MP put down a Parliamentary Question (PQ) asking the government i) what level of spending is needed to solve the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, and ii) is £8.2bn enough? b) The fact that these funds will be available in the future does not prove that there has been adequate funding in the past: Iraq may earn $12bn this year. In three and a half years of oil-for-food, the UN Sanctions Committee has approved only $10.46bn worth of humanitarian supplies for Iraq. Is your MP aware of the drastic inadequacy of oil-for-food so far? Is this not acause of the crisis? Point 3 The enterprise of the market The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reported in 1995 that the solution to the nutritional crisis in Iraq 'lies in adequate food supplies in the country, restoring the viability of the [Iraqi Dinar], and creating conditions for the people to acquire adequate purchasing power [ie jobs]. But these conditions can be fulfilled only if the economy can be put back in proper shape enabling it to draw on its own resources, and that clearly cannot occur as long as the embargo remains in force.' (FAO, Evaluation of food and nutrition in Iraq, 1995) As it says in the new Clause IV, 'the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition [must be] joined with the forces of partnership and co-operation'. Conservatives, New Labour and Liberal Democrats all value 'the market', yet seem to suggest that the humanitarian crisis in Iraq can be solved by public spending alone, when experts say clearly that employment and increased purchasing power for families is essential, and that these can only be secured when economic sanctions have been lifted. Possible Parliamentary Question for your MP to pose: Does the Government agree with the FAO evaluation? -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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