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Source: Save the Children Fund (SCF) Date: 28 Feb 2001 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- The impact of sanctions on children and young people in Iraq Our view (a) After the invasion of Kuwait, the United Nations, through the Security Council, imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq in 1990. Save the Children believes the responsibility for ensuring that Iraqi children grow up in a society that provides for their physical and social development must be shared jointly between the United Nations, while they maintain their control over economic life in the country, and the Government of Iraq. (b) This is the eleventh year of sanctions and it is clear from UN reports that the humanitarian programme has failed to provide the essentials of life e.g. clean water, sanitation, balanced diet, education, etc. Debate is dominated by arguments between the main players over 'who is to blame'. Save the Children believes this debate over who is to blame detracts from the humanitarian needs of Iraqi society. We also consider that the maintenance of a comprehensive embargo on Iraq is a disproportionate act in international law when the deleterious effect on the civilian population and children is so clear. Sanctions should be consistent with the UN Charter and international treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Context of Save the Children's work (a) In the 1980s the Government of Iraq persecuted large minorities within the country, in particular the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds. After the Gulf War, Save the Children began work in Baghdad and North Iraq providing emergency relief. We were not allowed to maintain our involvement in both parts of the country so we reluctantly withdrew from the Baghdad area in 1992 but continued working in the North where we have remained over the last ten years reorientating our focus to longer term development issues. (b) The 'separation' of North Iraq was acknowledged by the UN and the Government of Iraq in 1996 with their agreement to the 'Oil for Food' programme. The procedure for the three northern governorates, administered by the UN in conjunction with the local authorities, has led to many short-term improvements to public services. Impact (a) Comprehensive economic sanctions have been imposed throughout Iraq on the assumption that the long-term consequence of this pressure on the Government of Iraq outweighs the cost to the civilian population. Save the Children considers, based on our knowledge and programme experience, that Iraq's children have paid far too heavy a price for such a policy to be acceptable. (b) When politicians discuss humanitarian impact they emphasise the practicalities of the 'Oil for Food' humanitarian programme such as calories in the ration, supplies of medicine, price of oil, etc. and ignore how dramatically family life, social patterns and schooling have been affected. Save the Children believes Iraq's social fabric has been severely damaged with an inevitable impact on family life and children's upbringing. The long period of hardship resulting from sanctions means a whole generation of young people have 'lost' their childhood and prospects for the future. (c) In June 2000 the Security Council agreed to appoint an independent panel of experts to produce a Humanitarian Assessment of the situation. The Secretary General appointed a Chairperson of the group in October 2000. The Government of Iraq has declined to date to work with these experts. Save the Children calls on both parties to cooperate on the speedy collation of the best available information on the impact and evaluation of sanctions and the 'Oil for Food' programme with particular emphasis on infants, children and young people. The Future (a) The strategy of linking arms and territorial containment with comprehensive economic sanctions as a means of achieving this aim has delayed the delivery of essential goods and services to the population causing unnecessary suffering. Save the Children considers the UN 'Oil for Food' programme has failed in four years to adequately provide for the civilian population. The connection between economic sanctions and arms inspectors detailed in Security Council resolution 1284 (1999) should be removed to allow the rebuilding of a normal economy. This should be conditional on continued UN assessments of child health, nutrition and education constitutional and territorial safeguards and an equitable share of the country's resources being provided to the three northern governorates. (b) Sanctions, the UN's six monthly programmes and the ration system have created a dependency and short-term perspective at family and government level. Save the Children considers that central and local government, with the UN, must start planning for a 'post sanctions' society in advance of any settlement to ensure that vulnerable groups do not suffer in a transition period. (c) The investment that is required in infrastructure and public services to reverse the effect of war, sanctions and drought is massive. Twenty five per cent of all Iraq's oil revenue from the 'Oil for Food' programme is directed to a UN Compensation Fund for distribution to parties claiming compensation for loss suffered during the invasion of Kuwait. By January 2001 US$32 billion has been awarded with outstanding claims of a further US$223 billion. Save the Children believes that until child health, nutrition and education are improved to an internationally agreed standard, deductions from oil sales to the UN Compensation Fund should be suspended and further payments to Governments, corporations, private legal entities and public sector enterprises should be frozen. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk