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FW: IPPNW trip to Iraq

Title: FW: IPPNW trip to Iraq

IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) VISIT TO IRAQ. Professor Gottstein is a physician who I have met on a number of occasions. He embodies humanity and sanity. best, felicity a.

Subj:   Fw: short report Iraq flight    
Date:   6/18/01 8:20:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time    
Dear colleagues,

on June 1 the first direct flight Germany-Baghdad took place. In the year
2000 several countries had dared to send delegations by plane to Iraq,
against the will of the US and UK governments. African and Arabian countries
were the pioneers, followed by Greece, France, Russia, and others, lately by
Turkey and South Africa.

With full permission of the German government and approval of the Sanctions
Com. of the UN Security Council we flew with a Bulgarian Charter from
Frankfurt to Baghdad. I represented German IPPNW, there were more medical
doctors on board, mostly Iraqi born, several humanitarian NGOs, some
representatives from industries, and foremost German-Iraqi families, some
with children.

I visited the University Childrens Hospital and the Central Chemo-Radiation
Hospital and spoke with doctors and directors. Very sad my visit to the ward
with leukemia children, who have very little chance of healing (while in e.g.
Germany about 90% are healed). The expensive and effective chemotherapy, the
laboratory and the radiation therapy are all not fully effective. Everything
has to be ordered via Sanctions Com. in New York, and they work very slowly
and unreliable. The same is true for the adult cancer patients. The central
radiation institiute have only two 17 years old radiation apparats, no gamma
cameras and other modern ones. The SC does not allow "dual use" articles.
There are 2.200 articles on "dual use" lists and therefore on hold.

The health situation in general has improved in the last two years, but is
still very bad: 800.000 small children are chronically undernourished, the
mortality of the new-born more than 100% higher than before the sanctions,
still about 5.000 young children under five die from malnourishmant and
dysenteria and other  infections, because there is still no safe drinking
water, since the waterworks and sewage cleaning works had been bombed, and
still are not fully repared because spare parts etc are missing.

More than 60% of the people are very poor, mostly unemployed ( because very
little functioning industries and no trade with foreign countries), and the
earning 40% earn in the (average 1-2 Dollar per month.   This buys) 16 eggs
on the market. Every person gets from the state gratis a food package per
month, consisting of peas, flower, sugar, oil, tee) but without eggs, meat,
milk, so that they either have to buy them on the market or just suffer
protein deficiency.

Those who are close to the government or the Baath party, who are officers or
legal smugglers or who practice legal-illegal trade across the borders,
especially with Turkey and Jordan, or who have relatives in foreign countries
who send hard currency, can buy what they need on the market and in the shops.

In my conversations with the specialists in WHO and UNICEF I received the
statistics on mortality and morbidity rates, and one is not surprised that
they all -not being Iraqis - are angry about the sanctions policy of the SC.
Of course nobody likes Saddam Hussein, but also nobody likes the US
Presidents. A nice senior doctor, who had been trained in London and speaks
almost Oxford English, said to me, that he would wish to be dropped on the
White House together with a mini-nuke. They are so desperate and furious
because they see the future of their children and grand children destroyed,
and they themselves cannot do anything against their own regime. If they hear
in the radio from Western countries about the so-called Iraqi opposition and
their plan to stand up against the regime in Baghdad, they can only
ironically laugh about that naivity.

Nobody believes in the honesty of the "smart sanctions", they all are
convinced that this again is just a plan to betray the world opinion.
In discussions of a small group of participants with the minister of health
and the president and vice-president of the Iraqi parliament I was able to
ask critical questions. I visited several Iraqi doctors families in their
homes whom I know for ten years ( I had brought transports with medications
and baby food etc to Iraqi hospitals since 1991), and returned home ( with
infectious diarrhea which I had to treat with antibiotics) and the good
feeling that this trip had been worthwhile, because we had proved solidarity
with the innocent patients, doctors, families.

        Kind greetings to all of you,   Ulrich Gottstein.

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