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Catholic Groups Join Chorus Against Iraq Embargo

Catholic Groups Join Chorus Against Iraq Embargo
Decade of Sanctions Has Crippled Country, They Say

GENEVA, MAY 1, 2001 ( A group of Catholic groups, reporting on
children's rights in Iraq, called for an end to a decade of postwar
economic sanctions.

The nongovernmental organizations, among them Franciscans International,
presented a joint declaration at the 57th session of the U.N. Commission on
Human Rights, held here from March 19 to April 27.

The declaration states that Articles 38 and 3 of the U.N. Convention on the
Rights of the Child are being systematically violated, "as a result of more
than 10 years of economic sanctions against the people of Iraq."

Dominican sisters and friars from the United States visited Iraq three
years in a row, to see the ravages of the sanctions on the people. At the
end of their visit to Iraq last month, the delegation declared in a
statement: "During our 10 days in Iraq, we have witnessed the destruction
of a land, people and culture, an action more insidious and far-reaching
than any in the history of the United Nations."

The statement continued: "Every aspect of Iraqi society and culture has
been adversely affected by the sanctions. In the 1980s, Iraq possessed an
effective universal health care system and universal free education, modern
telecommunications technology, and adequate power resources. The country
had sophisticated water treatment systems that met the needs of most of the

"Now, after 10 years, the Iraqi infrastructure can no longer bear the
weight of human need. Women of childbearing age and especially children
continue to suffer from high levels of malnutrition, resulting in arrested
development and diminished capacity to reach their full potential. The air
and the water are toxic. Those who suffer most are children, an entire
generation who have known nothing but war. ... What hope is there as a
nation when sanctions deprive them of clean water, adequate nutrition,
medical treatment, and education?"

John Paul II has repeatedly called for an end to the sanctions.

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