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Hello all. Glenn from Voices here with April's notes for the monthly letter-writing group. The notes take a pretty similar format to what you may have read in the latest Voices newsletter, so if you have already seen this stuff and sent your letter winging on its way, I apologise for the duplication. The letter notes this month suggest asking your MP to table a Parliamentary Question before Parliament is dissolved for the election. The notes are based around what is probably the most fundamental issue in addressing the humanitarian crisis -- the reflation of the Iraqi economy and the reconstruction of its infrastructure. A summary of Foreign Office replies was promised last month, but very few have been sent to me lately that say anything new. All the general points they make can be rebutted with the briefing "Playing Politics with Suffering: Robin Cook, Sanctions and the Big Lie" available from the Voices office. ( email@example.com or 01865 243232). However, one particular line they have started on has been to rubbish Halliday and Von Sponeck. They explain that neither of these men these men were "the right man for the job" as "instead of working to make 'oil-for-food' a success, they chose instead to focus on the political debate". In replies you may like to point out that Halliday and Von Sponeck did not do 'one or the other' of these things, but administrated the system and then drew attention to its obvious shortcomings and inadequacy. It was their job to alleviate the humanitarian disaster in Iraq. If they could see that the programme they were administrating was not able to achieve the aims it professed, then it is not "beyond their remit" to say so, contrary to what the FCO would imply. How else will the Security Council assess how to modify the programme if its shortcomings in addressing the humanitarian crisis are not pointed out by anyone? The Humanitarian panel stated that the OFF programme "could not" address all the needs of the Iraqi people, "nor was it designed to." See the notes below for more on the need for economic reconstruction. In stating why Halliday and Von Sponeck were not up to the job, the FCo also say that their post "is a job for an experienced and dedicated administrator committed to making the most of the humanitarian programme on behalf of the Iraqi people." Two points here: Halliday had 34 years experience at the UN, rising to Assistant Secretary General. Von Sponeck had 32 years experience. How much more experience does the FCO think is necessary for this job? Secondly, the FCO suggests that they did not "make the most" of the OFF programme, but give no details. Perhaps the FCO would like to give its evidence of exactly which parts of the programme they failed to "make the most of". Anyway, the notes... --------------------------------------------------------------------------- April Letter notes. (As in all letters, please try to paraphrase and use your own wordings as much as possible, apart from quotes, obviously) Please ask your MP to table a parliamentary question with the following background: The foreign office is very proud of the high volume of humanitarian goods being imported into Iraq under the Oil for Food programme. However, it is generally recognised that 'a commodity based programme' cannot solve the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. The UN Security Council's own Humanitarian Panel reported in March 1999, 'the humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot be achieved solely through humanitarian efforts.' The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation reported in 1995 that to solve the nutritional crisis, Iraqi families needed "adequate food supplies", restoration of the "viability" of the Iraqi Dinar, and "conditions for the people to acquire adequate purchasing power". "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". -- from 'Evaluation of Food and Nutrition sitution in Iraq' 1995. In addition, UNICEF has stated clearly that the difference in child death rates between the north and south/central Iraq "cannot be attributed to the differing ways the Oil for Food program is implemented in the two parts of Iraq" -- from 'Questions and answers for the Child Mortality Survey', August 1999. *** Possible Parliamentary Question *** "Does the government accept the view of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and the UN Security Council's Humanitarian Panel that the humanitarian crisis in Iraq can only be solved through the re-inflation of the economy? And if not, why not?" Send to your MP at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Best of luck. Help keep the pressure on right up to the election! Cheers, Glenn. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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