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Re: can we trust Iraqi sources?

In one of my computer illiterate stages - as always - perhaps someome
smarter could post the site for the UN's' State of the World's Children' and
it could be checked year by, felicity a.

>From: andrew mandell <>
>To: "Voices uk" <>,
>Subject: Re: can we trust Iraqi sources?
>Date: Mon, Dec 17, 2001, 7:53 pm

> Hi.
> i had a question regarding the figures that may have been already answered
> but if so i missed it. How accurate would the pre 1991 mortality rates be
> that I suppose are the basis for sanction related death estimates. It seems
> coming out of the Iran Iraq war it would have been in the governments
> interest to see those figures deflated to add to the sense of the "victory
> that wasn't" if those rates were deflated obviously that would make things
> even more messy.
> Andrew
> At 07:38 PM 12/17/01 -0000, Voices uk wrote:
>>I've not much to add to Per's e-mail, except perhaps to stress that these
>>remarks extend beyond the child mortality figures (which seem to be the
>>focus of Per's e-mail). It's a matter of historical record that the Iraqi
>>Government has often put out figures - and made statements - that are either
>>misleading, false or inconsistent with earlier figures / statements of their
>>own (and, as Per says, they are also clearly *not* a disinterested party).
>>Dirk actually sent me a classic example last week - an AFP report (December
>>5th) in which the Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh 'accused the UN
>>sanctions committee ... of blocking six billion worth of contracts concluded
>>within the framework of the "oil-for-food" program.' According to this
>>report Saleh claimed that 'six billion dollars worth of contracts were
>>*still* blocked by the UN sanctions committee' (emphasis added,  unlike the
>>report Glenn mentions there doesn't seem to be any ambiguity here). Of
>>course, the reporter had no problem finding out - and reporting - that there
>>were actually $4.37 billion worth of goods on hold.
>>Finally, Dirk wrote that 'There have been so many "independent reports",
>>with "independent figures".' However if we're talking about child mortality
>>figures this isn't actually true. Indeed, in his March '99 'Morbidity and
>>Mortality' paper Richard Garfield noted that, whilst there was good data
>>available on child nutrition, water quality and a number of other social and
>>health indicators which influence child mortality, data was 'not available
>>from any reliable studies on mortality since 1991' (the oft-cited 1995 FAO
>>mission study 'suffered from serious flaws in methods and interpretation'
>>and its results were subsequently withdrawn by its authors). This remained
>>the case until the August '99 UNICEFsurvey.
>>If it weren't for the UNICEF report the pro-sanctions lobby would find it
>>much easier to claim that the humanitarian crisis was a propaganda
>>fabrication, or deny its scale (for a good - if extreme - example of this
>>see eg. Anthony Cordemann's book 'Iraq and the War of Sanctions'). I think
>>it's also fair to say that  the UNICEF report played an important role in
>>shifting public opinion over here in the UK.
>>Best wishes,
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: Dirk Adriaensens <>
>>To: <>; Per
>>Klevnäs <>
>>Date: 16 December 2001 18:02
>>Subject: Re: can we trust Iraqi sources?
>>Dear Per and others,
>>Prof.Waterlow, the "pope" of the nutritionists, wrote a letter in november
>>1991 to the Lancet, appealing at the UN to monitor child mortality and the
>>food situation on a monthly basis (J.C. Waterlow, "Malnutrition in Iraq" in
>>The Lancet, 338,ii,23/11/1991). The answer in the Lancet of 21-28/12/1991: "
>>there is compelling evidence that economic sanctions against Iraq have led
>>to dangerous shortage of essential commodities, including food and medicine.
>>Immediate action, rather than statistical analyses, is what's needed to
>>avert a public health disaster in that country". A report of the WHO ("The
>>effect of Embargo on Iraqi Children health status") in 1993 says: " it is
>>not necessary to do another study to demonstrate that the embargo has a
>>negative impact on the health status of the Iraqi children. What will the
>>political decision be if there is an increase of mortality with 200 or 400%.
>>Does it really depend on the amount of the increase? Is there a figure past
>>which the embargo is no longer tolerated on humanitarian grounds?"
>>There have been so many "independent reports", with "independent figures".
>>The Harvard Study Team, "The effect of the Gulf Crisis on the Children of
>>Iraq, published in the New England Journal Of Medicine, 1991. There was the
>>International Study Team, "Infant and Child Mortality and Nutritional Status
>>of Iraqi children after the Gulf Conflict", Cambridge, april 1992. There was
>>the FAO report in 1993 "Nutritional Status Assessment Report" And so on, and
>>so on. Report after "independent" report has been written. What has been
>>done with the information in all these reports? Not much really. We are
>>almost 2002 now, and still the child mortality is increasing, and in 6
>>months time Iraq might be looking at the worst of things: the "smart
>>sanctions" or even a new war. Of course it is important to have the correct
>>facts & figures, but that is only one side of the medal. The other side is
>>the analysis on why these sanctions are held in place. And there the answer
>>is: oil, natural resources and the Iraqi will to reign over their own
>>resources, independently from Western multinationals and their New World
>>Order. There you have the reason for the creation of this humanitarian
>>disaster. I think that the focus should be on both sides of the medal. We
>>have to express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle
>>against this New World Order. Otherwise "we risk to drown an emotional and
>>humanly sensitive topic in dry numbers and discussion about statistics", as
>>Per puts it.
>>Dirk Adriaensens.
>>----- Original Message -----
>>From: "Per Klevnäs" <>
>>To: "Dirk Adriaensens" <>;
>>Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2001 12:30 PM
>>Subject: Re: can we trust Iraqi sources?
>>> Dear all,
>>> First of all, I would like to note what has previously been said on this
>>> discussion list in relation to this topic: we risk to drown an emotional
>>> humanly sensitive topic in dry numbers and discussion about statistics. I
>>> hope the below discussion can nonetheless be justified.  In my view, the
>>> most powerful tool we have in engaging with those who disagree with us on
>>> this issue is good information, and maintaining a credibility that makes
>>> possible for others - especially those who do not agree with out
>>initially -
>>> to believe the information we present to be correct.
>>> The most detailed critique of Government of Iraq figures I have read is in
>>> an article by Amatzia Baram in the Middle East
>>> Journal(  I disagree with
>>> Baram's overall conclusion (that sanctions is the least worst option), but
>>> think that many of statements he makes about the figures of the Government
>>> of Iraq are plausible: its statistics are often are often internally
>>> inconsistent, too precise to be possible, presented without any account of
>>> the methodology used to arrive at them, and - crucially - tainted by a
>>> clearly identifiable political interest that would serve to inflate them.
>>> This is not to say that they are always incorrect: in fact, the 1999
>>> mortality study arrived at a figure which was remarkably similar to that
>>> excess under-five deaths which had previously been presented by the Iraqi
>>> Ministry of Health.
>>> However, it is precisely because it can be corroborated with Unicef's
>>> that we know the Ministry of Health claim to have (at least quantitative)
>>> substance.  Without impartial verification, we would end up in a situation
>>> where argument is from authority only, and the basis for our claims would
>>> that for various reasons we trust the Government of Iraq to be right.
>>> we might choose to do, but we have no good basis for asking others to do
>>> Instead they might, with the same argument from authority, choose another
>>> authority: say, the US State Department or the UK FCO, which claim that
>>> Iraqi figures are entirely unreliable and that we do not know that
>>> have caused any harm.  In my view, this polarisation of the discussion of
>>> sanctions is not helpful, as it cannot lead anywhere as long as people
>>> choose to rely on different authorities.  To us, this is nonsense, but
>>> the discussion simply comes to and end.  At its worst, such discussion has
>>> tended to obscure the desperately important message we have: that our
>>> on Iraq is contributing to a humanitarian disaster.
>>> The situation would be different if there was no other information, but as
>>> it is not, we do not actually need to rely on Iraqi government claims.
>>> There is much other information on which to draw.  One of the most telling
>>> aspects of Amatzia Baram's (Spring 2000) article was that although it
>>> purports to discuss under-five mortality in Iraq, it is entirely silent on
>>> Unicef's 1999 survey, which studies precisly this.  This is disingenuous:
>>> what reason is there to omit from a detailed discussion the only impartial
>>> and most comprehensive survey we know of?  Information on living standards
>>> in Iraq under sanctions is publicly available: from Unicef, from the FAO
>>> WFP, from the WHO, and many independent studies, to argue conclusively
>>> the decade of economic sanctions has been one of a humanitarian disaster
>>> Iraq.
>>> I personally think this information is more than enough to argue against
>>> sanctions.  While including Iraqi government statements in our argument
>>> might sharpen the rhetorical edge of our claims somewhat, by slapping
>>> (generally) higher and more numerically precise figures on what other,
>>> impartial sources have already told us, they do so at the desperately high
>>> price of undermining the credibility of what we are saying.  It gives
>>> precious ammunition for the proponents of continued economic sanctions,
>>> adding actual substance to the claim that we are merely dupes of the
>>> Saddam's regime.  And, crucially, we would not have any way of ridding
>>> ourselves of this claim: repeating a claim that is correct (whether in
>>> substance or in absolute) does little good if one cannot say why it is
>>> In this situation, relying on Iraqi claims that cannot be independently
>>> verified does us little good.  More importantly, I personally believe that
>>> it does little good for the process of ending sanctions.
>>> Yours,
>>> Per Klevnäs
>>This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
>>For removal from list, email
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>>This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
>>For removal from list, email
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> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
> For removal from list, email
> CASI's website - - includes an archive of all postings.
This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
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