The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Hello Tim, Colin and others,
I agree with Tim: "People in Iraq are in a much better position to comment on the reality of sanctions than the most well-meaning people here". That leads us to the next point in the discussion. When we visited Iraq in july, the representative of UNICEF spoke frankly against sanctions, but said that it was up to anti-sanctions campaigners to put pressure on their governments. "UNICEF is not a political organisation" he said. One of the women in the group said that this meeting had convinced her more than any other meeting with an Iraqi official. Another Belgian-Iraqi woman who was with our delegation said that this was a racist remark. And frankly, I agreed with her. Why should we believe more the facts and figures of UNICEF than Iraqi figures? The presence of UNICEF in Iraq is totally unnecessary, if the sanctions were lifted. First UNICEF uses funds that could be better used in other third-world countries that are poorer and have no resources of their own. That makes two genocides. Second: UNICEF is in Iraq to relief the worst suffering, and is so also responsable for the prolongation of the sanctions that are caused by the mother-organisation, the UN. Because UNICEF is serving as an alibi to answer to criticism to sanctions. I can give a few examples of that: UNICEF helps to repair the sewage and sanitation systems in a number of projects. The government of IRAQ and the Iraqi people are perfectly capable of doing that on their own, but don't receive the necessary spare-parts because of the embargo and can't buy the spare-parts because there is no foreign currency. Another example is for instance the breast-feeding campaign that UNICEF wants to start in Iraq in an attempt to diminish the child-mortality. The UNICEF representative told us that the Iraqi government didn't want to cooperate on this fully. I asked Nasra Al-Sadoon, chief-editor of "Iraq daily" why, and she said that before 1990, there never has been a problem with breast-feeding in Iraq. The only problem, she said, is the embargo: poverty, malnutrition and stress with young mothers. She found this UNICEF-campaign a very cynical one. And I agreed. UNICEF wants to make the western public opinion believe that Iraq is not educating their mothers enough to breast-feed their babies, worse even: the Iraqi government don't want to cooperate with this program. When I heard the explanation of the Iraqi's, I understood. At the end UNICEF must drown in its own contradictions. Can I believe someone who tells us (privately) that his hands are tied, and doesn't want to speak out openly against the embargo?
No, I have more respect for Denis Halliday en Hans von Sponeck, who saw these contradictions and resigned. And that's why I find Iraqi figures plausible: because I've seen the efforts that the Iraqi government makes to prevent a whole nation from starvation, a rationing system that works perfectly, and the efforts to try to rebuild the country without help from outside. Iraq doesn't need charity. It needs a lifting of the embargo to rebuild its economy.