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Final Voices letter before General Election

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. ( 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

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

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

-- 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!



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