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RE: Pencils and Sanction Deaths

Dear list members,

This will be a mercifully short posting:

1. I apologise for the harshness of my posting on Omar Al-Taher's article.
I wrote quickly, and sent it off with rough edges.  I apologise for that.
Thank you, Judith, for your question about our civility.

2. I don't think that I'd seen the article that Rahul cited, in which the
Deputy Director of the UN humanitarian programme in Iraq was quoted linking
the pencils and graphite.  My guess is that he is mistaken, possibly in
large part because the Sanctions Committee operated in such secrecy: he
would more likely have read the Foreign Affairs article making this link
than have heard from someone on the Committee.  I tried to see whether the
Distribution Plan from the time of the article (Phase V) mentioned pencils.
It didn't, which leaves the issue open.  I think that Conlon, who claims
that the pencils concern was about excessive quantities rather than
graphite, is probably right: he worked on the Committee from its start until
1994, so knew it as few others did.

3. In response to Rahul's question whether anybody "outside Iraq has
generated new data since that 1999 UNICEF report", my sense is "no" as well:
I've not heard of any.

4. In response to Dai's question about "data that distinguishes between
illnesses and mortality due to sanctions ... versus chronic health effects
that may be associated with depleted uranium exposure, either genetic or
from ongoing exposure to contaminated environments", there is not, to my
knowledge.  The Unicef 1999 survey did collect "cause of death" information,
but that was not released in the "preliminary" report.  Regional variation
in mortality rates were reported on in the Lancet version of the article;
there's a link to this on CASI's website, under the Unicef heading.  On the
'toxic environment', my understanding of this situation is that there is not
yet a good understanding of how the mix of chemicals unleashed in the Gulf
War is contributing to it.

Thanks, everyone, for being here,

Colin Rowat

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