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Hello letter writers. Glenn from Voices here. This is the next batch of notes for the monthly letter-writing that we are organising. With flights going in to Baghdad in increasing numbers, now's the time to keep the pressure on the Foreign Office. (November letter notes are below if you want to skip the intro bit.) Thank you all of those who sent copies of their letters and the few responses that have begun to come from the Foreign Office. Responses will be thoroughly dissected and points addressed - we'll keep you posted. In the mean time, one tip. Despite the natural desire that we all have to scream at our policymakers to BLOODY WELL STOP THIS INHUMAN POLICY! please keep your letters as polite as you can. That way any responses they produce have to at least pretend to be thoughtful - we make the FCO WORK to justify their policy. One response came back that because the letter-writer alleged that the FCO had been 'telling lies' they saw no point in responding. They're taking their ball and going home. This lets them off the hook too easily. We want to try to make sure that as many people at the FCO as possible are faced with the consequences of their actions again and again - they can't be allowed to think that the issue has 'gone away' for a while. The more people at the FCO who have to think through all the issues and compose lengthy and convincing justifications about this unjustifiable policy, the more effect I think we'll be having. Keep up the pressure! Glenn. ------------------------------------------------------------ November voices Letter to MPs Please draw your MP's attention to the Minister of State Peter Hain's statement on Iraq on 23 October 2000, as reproduced on the official Foreign Office website - available from http:// www.fco.gov.uk/news/ Please address one or more of the following 3 and a half points: Point 1 MALNUTRITION Peter Hain failed to address the results of a recent survey of child hunger in Iraq by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The FAO/WFP study found that 800,000 children under the age of five continue to be chronically malnourished. This represents one in four Iraqi children under the age of five. (The FAO/WFP report, released on 13 Sept. 2000, is available at: http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/ECONOMIC/ESN/IRAQ.PDF ) Your MP may not be aware that chronic malnutrition in Iraq is very largely the result of contaminated drinking water, or that it can lead to lifelong physical and mental stunting. Point 2 HOLDS Mr Hain says, correctly, that in the coming year, 'more than $16 billion' will be available to Iraq (under Oil-for-Food) for humanitarian goods. He alleges - without giving details - that 'some of it is being held back by Iraqi bureaucracy, preventing the Iraqi people from receiving the support which we in the international community, and Britain especially, want to give them'. Mr Hain does not point out that according to the new UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Mr Tun Myat, speaking on 19 October, the Sanctions Committee is currently holding back $2.25 billion worth of humanitarian goods from Iraq. Mr Myat said that some of these holds 'pertained to critical items'. (His remarks can be found at http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2000/20001019.myatbriefing.doc.html ) Britain and the United States are primarily responsible for the holds imposed by the Sanctions Committee. Perhaps you could suggest to your MP that s/he ask a Parliamentary Question (PQ) of the Government, asking for a list of the holds being imposed by the British Government at 1 November 2000. Tun Myat has just reported to the Security Council that all the necessary arrangements have been made to ensure that goods imported under oil-for-food are used for the agreed purposes. Perhaps you could suggest a Parliamentary Question on whether the Government accepts the new arrangements as satisfactory. If so, will holds be lifted? If not, why not? Point 3 WATER/SANITATION Mr Hain draws attention to the US State Dept.'s allegation that a luxury safari park built for the Iraqi leadership enjoys 'the latest irrigation systems' while the ordinary people of Iraq 'are denied access to proper water and sanitation'. He does not mention the fact that the UN Secretary-General drew attention in September to a lack of adequate maintenance, spare parts and staffing in this sector, and the absence of 'key complementary items' placed on hold by the Sanctions Committee, without which the decay of the entire water and sanitation system is 'accelerating.' Mr Hain is seeking to evade Britain's share of responsibility for chronic malnutrition among children in Iraq. We must not let him. Also, allegations of expensive Iraqi government projects such as safari parks imply that a simple diversion of funds from such projects to the general population will solve the humanitarian crisis. As the minister knows any funding for such projects would have to come from smuggled oil. The British government's own figures estimate that smuggling by the regime amounts to some $1 billion per year (less than half the amount of 'holds' in the Sanctions Committee). UN reports indicate that the current $16 billion per year under Oil for Food is not adequate to address the humanitarian consequences of the sanctions, and that only a reflating of the Iraqi economy and massive investment can achieve this. Does the minister therefore believe that diverting the alleged $1 billion of smuggled resources - that is, increasing the humanitarian goods by ONE SIXTEENTH - can solve the humanitarian crisis? If so, what is the basis for this belief? -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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://www.casi.org.uk