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Re: [casi] Electricity in Baghdad?

Dear Roger, Jennifer and all,
how is it possible that lies like: " no child in Iraq needs to be denied
medical treatment if only the available resources would have been used and
would be used for what they are by the GOI, instead of, for instance, being
resold to third parties for hard dollars.", or: "the Northern governorates
where better off in some mysterious way than the Center-South. The truth is
they are under the same sanctions and they receive proportionally the same
amount of medical supplies under the OFF as the rest of Iraq", are still
being written and posted to CASI when since years these allegations have
been proven wrong by CASI, Voices in The Wilderness and others. This
CASI-site for instance has a splendid FAQ and answer section.
Roger has answered already to one lie, but let me copy here different
answers as they have been given by CASI, VIW-UK, EPIC and others, so that
this subject can be closed for once and for all. I suggest that people read
about the subject first before repeating the same allegations over and over
Below is a frequently asked question and answer regarding the North-South
Disparity in Iraq from EPIC
The North-South Disparity
Citing the improvement of Northern Iraq's mortality rates, where the UN
controls distribution of food & medicine, the State Dept. claims that Saddam
must be for blame for the crisis in South and Central Iraq.

  a.. South & Central Iraq has received less support per capita from the
international community than the North. 11 non-governmental organizations
(NGO's) are located in South & Central Iraq. In contrast, 34 NGO's are
located in the North, which comprises only 15% of the population yet
received 65% of all aid from 1991-96.
  b.. Because war reparations to Kuwait are only taken out of the budget for
Southern and Central Iraq, the North recieves 22%more per capita from the
Oil-for-Food program, and gets about 10% of UN controlled assistance in
currency, while the rest of the country recieves only commodities. Thus the
Iraqi government is responsible for coming up with the money to hire workers
and transport for distribution in the Central/South, whereas the currency
provided to the North can cover those costs.
  c.. Goods are approved by the UN for distribution in the North faster than
in the Center/South.
  d.. The North has roughly 15% of Iraq's population and land area, but 48%
of its agriculture. This provides people in the North with easier access to
local food sources.
  e.. Since the bombing of "Desert Storm" was concentrated in the South, the
destruction of the civilian infrastructure is more severe there.
  f.. The borders of Northern Iraq are more "porous", allowing for increased
smuggling and trade than the rest of the country.
  g.. Since the rivers flow north-to-south, the South's water is more
contaminated by sewage dumped into those rivers further North.

Below is a text taken from "Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions
and War" ,ed. Anthony Arnove (Cambridge: South End Press, 2000), pp.
Myth 7: The distribution in northern Iraq-where the UN is most heavily
involved-is better than in the south, proving that the Iraqi government is
failing to adequately distribute food and medicine to its people.

Sanctions are simply not the same in the north and south. Differences in
Iraqi mortality rates result from several factors: the Kurdish north has
been receiving humanitarian assistance longer than other regions of Iraq;
agriculture in the north is better; evading sanctions is easier in the north
because its borders are far more porous; the north receives 22 percent more
per capita from the oil-for-food program than the south-central region; and
the north receives UN-controlled assistance in currency, while the rest of
the country receives only commodities

Below is a summary of frequently asked questions and answers regarding
economic sanctions against Iraq drawing from several main points made by
Hans von Sponeck, former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Professor
Marc Bossuyt, Professor of International Law at the University of Antwerp
(UIA), and Former Chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and Denis,
Vienot  President, Caritas Europa in a document dated 23 August 2001.

Why doesn't the Government of Iraq spend its oil revenue on needed medicines
and medical equipment?

Under sanctions, the Iraqi government does not control the revenue from its
oil exports.  The 661 Sanctions Committee
places increasingly large numbers of vital equipment - particularly in the
medical field - on hold.  The Secretary-General's report to the UN Security
Council of May 2001 states that 98% of projects on hold under Phase IX are
in the field of
medical equipment.  Indeed, the Secretary General's report to the UN
Security Council of May 2001 (cited in Baroness Winterbourne's report in
paragraphs 39-42) states that 98% of projects on hold under Phase IX are in
the field
of medical equipment.

How should we understand the causes for the better situation in the North?

Any honest analysis of conditions in the three northern governorates would
include the following factors:

1.       Proportionately more oil revenue has been available to the Kurdish
population in the northern Governates

2.      Sanctions regulations were eased for the northern Governates with
the consent of the UN Security Council, in terms of local cash and local

3.      A better epidemiological and agricultural situation prevails in
those areas because of topography and climate

4.      There is much opportunity for cross-border trade with Turkey and

These are important additional elements which explain why those areas are
doing better.

Below is a text from Jeff Lindemeyer:

Myth: "Iraq is mismanaging the oil-for-food program, either deliberately or
through incompetence" (U.S. State Department, March 2000).

Fact: The U.S. State Department claims that there has been some improvement
in the mortality rates in northern Iraq, where the UN controls distribution
of food and medicine, and that this proves that Saddam Hussein is to blame
for the crisis in southern and central Iraq. As Hans Van Sponeck, former UN
Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, who took over after Halliday's
resignation, has even noted, the claim of mismanagement is simply not true
(The Fire This Time, April 1999).

Since the bombing of the "Persian Gulf War" was concentrated in southern
Iraq, the destruction of civilian infrastructure is most severe there. Yet
the oil-for-food program provides no funding for the distribution of food
and medicine in southern and central Iraq. Southern and central Iraq also
receives far less support per capita from the international community than
northern Iraq. Comprising 85% of the population, southern and central Iraq
benefits from only 11 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as opposed to
the 34 NGOs benefiting northern Iraq (Education for Peace in Iraq Center).

Below is a summary of frequently asked questions and answers regarding
economic sanctions against Iraq from the CASI-website

7. Isn't the problem that the Iraqi regime doesn't distribute the supplies
it receives?
The UK government has persistently claimed that the humanitarian crisis in
Iraq is caused in large part because the Government of Iraq diverts
resources that it imports under the "oil for food" scheme, either for
supplementing the wealth of a small elite, or to sustain poverty for
propagandistic reasons. This is an explanation that has been consistently
challenged by UN agencies and personnel working within Iraq.

Most recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in
its report of September 2000 characterises the Government of Iraq's food
rationing system as "effective". It notes that the availability of "cereal
imports since 1997/98 under the oil-for-food deal has led to significant
improvements in the food supply situation" (p. 31). Nevertheless, a major
problem is that "food rations do not provide a nutritionally adequate and
varied diet" (p. 33). The potential solution to this, complementing the
ration with locally produced goods, is made difficult by the fact that "two
consecutive years of severe drought and inadequate supply of essential
agricultural equipment and inputs, including spare parts, fertilizers,
pesticides and herbicides, have gravely affected the Iraqi agriculture
sector" (pp.14, 31). In addition, poverty compounds this problem: "with the
decline in household income, a significant number of Iraqis are not in a
position to adequately complement the ration" (p. 14).

Tun Myat, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, made similar comments in
his first press conference on 19 October 2000. He said that the food
distribution system in Iraq under the "oil for food" programme was "second
to none", but that "in order to affect the overall livelihood and nutrition
state of the people, of the children, you need more than food, of course".
Unless the basics - housing, electricity, water, and sanitation - were
restored, the overall well-being of the people would not improve. In
addition to the collapse of such infrastructure, he said, the major problem
was poverty.

The Security Council's Humanitarian Panel report of 30 March 1999 commented
directly on the question of Iraqi cooperation with "oil for food" (37):

"While there is agreement that the Government could do more to make the "oil
for food" programme work in a better and more timely fashion, it was not
clear to what extent the problems encountered could be attributed to
deliberate action or inaction on the part of the Iraqi Government. It is
generally recognized that certain sectors such as electricity work smoothly
while drug supplies suffer from delays in distribution. But mismanagement,
funding shortages (absence of the so called "cash component") and a general
lack of motivation might also explain such delays. While food and medicine
had been explicitly exempted by Security Council resolution 661, controls
imposed by resolution 986 had, at times, created obstacles to their timely

The "cash component" bears explanation. In the areas of Iraq under
governmental control, the government is not given cash in return for oil
sales under the "oil for food" scheme, but only receives delivery of goods.
As a result it is constrained in its ability to, for example, hire a lorry
to make a delivery if it does not have one available at the time.

8. Why is Northern Iraq in a better shape than the areas under the control
of the Iraqi Government?
Humanitarian agencies have consistently reported that, whilst the situation
in central and southern Iraq - administered by the Government of Iraq -
remains one of humanitarian crisis, there has actually been a decline in
mortality rates in Iraqi Kurdistan, administered by the UN since 1991. US
and UK government statements have claimed this is evidence that the Iraqi
regime is intentionally sustaining high mortality rates outside of Iraqi
Kurdistan to win sympathy. In the words of one UK Foreign Office Minister,
the difference "is because in northern Iraq the UN is implementing the 'oil
for food' programme, not the Iraqi authorities. And it is doing so in a
manner designed to bring maximum benefit to the Iraqi people."

Responses to this are two-fold. On one level, the direct cause of the
suffering is much less relevant than ascertaining what can be done to
prevent it. Under sanctions, at least hundreds of thousands more Iraqis have
died. Whether or not the sanctions that the UK and US have imposed are
intrinsically lethal or have only been so when manipulated by Baghdad, these
governments have an ability to reduce the suffering if they choose.

On the second level, if one is concerned about the causes, various analyses
make clear that the difference between Iraqi Kurdistan and South/Central
Iraq is due to a wide variety of factors, and cannot simply be explained by
pointing to the malevolence of the Iraqi leadership. As Anupama Singh,
Unicef representative in Baghdad, explained in 1999, "the UN's direct role
in the north did not account for the widely different results in infant
mortality, especially since the oil-for-food deal went into effect only in
1997." Instead, Ms Singh suggested that the differences could be explained
by a number of factors, including "the heavy presence of humanitarian
agencies helping the Kurdish population". In addition, according to Ms
Singh, in Northern Iraq "the oil-for-food money includes a cash component,
allowing the UN, for example, to train local authorities and more
effectively implement and monitor programmes. In the centre and south under
Iraqi regime control, no funds are allocated to ministries for fear they
would be used for more sinister purposes. The government may receive
sanitation equipment, for example, but not have the resources to pay for
contractors to install it."

Ms Singh's statements are expanded upon by a Unicef document from August
1999 which seeks to explain the differences in the current levels of child
mortality between the autonomous northern governorates and the rest of Iraq:

"... the difference in the current rate cannot be attributed to the
differing ways the Oil-for-Food Program is implemented in the two parts of
Iraq. The Oil-for-Food Program is two and a half years old. Therefore it is
too soon to measure any significant impact of the Oil-for-Food Program on
child mortality over the five year period of 1994-1999 as is reported in
these surveys. We need to look at longer-term trends and factors including
the fact that since 1991 the north has received far more support per capita
from the international community than the south and center of Iraq. Another
factor maybe that the sanctions themselves have not been able to be so
rigorously enforced in the north as the border is more "porous" than in the
south and center of Iraq."

The March 1999 report of the Security Council's Humanitarian Panel also
provides reasons for the differences between the two regions of Iraq (44):

"The North of Iraq is clearly doing better than the Center/South for a
variety of reasons. The per capita allocation of funds under the 986
programme is higher, distribution of food and medicine through UN agencies
is comparatively more efficient than distribution by the Government, and the
Northern border is more permeable to embargoed commodities than the rest of
the country. ... Although the historic vulnerability of the North, as
recognized in paragraph 8 (b) of resolution 986 (1995) would seem to justify
the special attention it receives, it is a matter of concern that the
situation in the Center/South is, in general terms, comparatively worse - a
circumstance which most UN agencies felt should not be overlooked. It was
also noted, in this context, that the territorial integrity and sovereignty
of Iraq has been consistently upheld by Security Council resolutions."

Similarly, a leading epidemiologist at Columbia University, Professor
Richard Garfield, wrote to the New York Times on 13 September 1999, saying

"... the embargo in the North is not the "same embargo".... The North enjoys
porous borders with Turkey, Syria, and Iran, and thus is effectively less
embargoed than the rest of the country. It benefits from the aid of 34
Non-Government Organizations, while in the whole rest of the country there
are only 11. It receives 22% more per capita from the Oil for Food program,
and gets about 10% of all UN-controlled assistance in currency, while the
rest of the country receives only commodities. Food, medicine, and water
pumps are now helping reduce mortality throughout Iraq, but the pumps do
less for sanitation where authorities cannot buy sand, hire day laborers, or
find many other minor inputs to make filtration plants work. Goods have been
approved by the UN and distributed to the North far faster than in the
Center or South. The UN Security Council treats people in that part of the
country like innocents. Close to 20 million civilians in the Center and
South of the country deserve the same treatment. Spokesman James P. Rubin
said that 'We can't solve a problem that is the result of tyrannical
behavior.' He probably was referring to Saddam Hussein. As one involved in
providing assistance throughout Iraq, I must admit that the arbitrary,
ineffective, or destructive control sometimes exercised by the Security
Council over Iraqi funds for food and medicine seem no less tyrannical. A
good faith effort to meet basic needs in Iraq would create a better basis to
negotiate an end to the Iraq conflict. Instead, every problem is blamed on
Saddam. This politicization of the Oil for Food program only delays and
weakens our ability to address the urgent humanitarian needs created by this
most comprehensive embargo of the 20th century."

Finally, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in its
report of September 2000 also points to the differences in health and
nutritional status between the two areas of Iraq. The report notes that "in
contrast to the situation in the centre/south, improvements in the
nutritional situation in the north had started in 1994, prior to SCR 986".
In other words, the start of the discrepant development preceded the arrival
of goods under the "oil for food" programme by almost three years. According
to the FAO, the difference between the north and the South/Centre is "due to
greater resources in the north, the north has 9% of the land area of Iraq
but nearly 50% of the productive arable land, and receives higher levels of
assistance per person. The north also benefits from the greater flexibility
the use of cash gives" (p. 28). In addition, there may be some truth in the
claim that the UN administration is more efficient than the corresponding
Iraqi authorities; for example, UN staff are paid while Iraqi officials do
not receive salaries from "oil for food" money.

Below is a summary of frequently asked questions and answers regarding
economic sanctions against Iraq by Voices in The Wilderness-UK

1) Sanctions have little or nothing to do with the current crisis.
According to UNICEF UK economic sanctions have been an 'important factor' in
the deaths of half a million Iraqi children. Save the Children Fund UK have
called the sanctions 'a silent war against Iraq's children.'

Last year, one of the world's leading human rights NGO's, Human Rights
Watch - who certainly have no love for Saddam Hussein - admonished the US
Government to 'stop pretending that the sanctions have nothing to do with
the dire public health crisis confronting millions of Iraqis.' The British
Government should do the same.

2) Iraq has plenty of money available to purchase food and medicines.

The humanitarian crisis isn't simply a matter of 'food and medicines.'
Rather, the fundamental causes of the crisis are : (i) the massive
deterioration of Iraq's civilian infrastructure (electricity, water,
sanitation, sewage, hospitals etc...) and (ii) the collapse of Iraq's
economy. These two factors are both overwhelmingly the result of the 1991
Gulf War and 11 years of economic sanctions.

Whilst there is more money available now (because of higher oil prices) :

  The sums available are inadequate. For example, the FCO claimed that $16
billion was available for the humanitarian programme last year. The figure
was wrong (the real figure was just under $12 billion ) but even the FCO's
inflated figure fell well short of what was (and is) needed, eg. the
Economist Intelligence Unit has estimated the cost of reconstructing Iraq's
essential infrastructural utilities at $50 - $100 bn. According to the most
senior UN aid official working in Iraq (UN Humanitarian Co ordinator, Tun
Myat) : "the overall well-being of the people [of Iraq]" will "not improve"
unless "the basics - housing, electricity, water and sanitation - [are]
restored" (Press Briefing, 19th October).

  The UN allocates 28% of all oil-for-food funds to pay for 'war
reparations' and its own expenses.

  By its very nature a programme like oil-for-food can't address the
problems of sanctions-induced economic collapse. eg. according to Human
Rights Watch (August 4th 2000) : 'An emergency commodity assistance program
like oil-for-food, no matter how well funded or well run, cannot reverse the
devastating consequences of war and ten years of virtual shutdown of Iraq's
economy ... The deterioration in Iraq's civilian infrastructure is so
far-reaching that is can only be reversed with extensive investment and
development efforts.'

4) Isn't Saddam spending all the money on palaces and luxuries for his
No. According to the British Government's own figures, last year, if all of
the illicit revenues available to the Iraqi Government had been channelled
into the official humanitarian programme ('oil for food') revenues would
have been increased by less than 3%.

By contrast the UN currently diverts 28% of all 'oil for food' to pay for
'war reparations' and its own expenses. The mega-rich Kuwait Petroleum
Company (KPC) was recently awarded $15 billion compensation : the folk at
the KPC aren't suffering from malnutrition and water-borne disease.

5) Isn't the Iraqi Government hoarding all the food and medicine?
No. According to the current UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, Tun
Myat, Iraq's food distribution system is "second to none" (October 2000). On
1st March 2000 his predecessor, Hans von Sponeck had stated that the
distribution of supplies coming into Iraq was "totally satisfactory" with
91.7 % of supplies distributed. For medical supplies the figure was lower
(72%) "but this reflected World Health Organisation recommended stockpiling
practices" and the time needed for quality control.

7) Isn't Saddam Hussein deliberately sabotaging the oil-for-food programme
by failing to order medicines and other supplies.
There's no evidence to support this allegation. Oil-for-food doesn't run
perfectly and there have been problems recently with the timely submission
of contracts for medicines and other goods to the UN . However, a number of
factors - including a major shake-up of the contracting system in an attempt
to eliminate dodgy suppliers - probably account for much of these delays. In
January of this year the current Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, Tun
Myat, said that there was 'nothing sinister' about these delays.

8) It's a myth that sanctions prevent goods from getting to Iraq.
Sanctions do prevent goods from getting to Iraq: there are currently more
than $3.5 billion worth of humanitarian supplies that are being blocked by
the UN Sanctions Committee. Whilst there are now a number of so-called
'green lists' of pre-approved goods which don't have to be submitted to the
Committee, many desperately needed goods continue to be blocked and delayed.
[Note, however, that these 'holds' aren't the root cause of the humanitarian
crisis (see 2. above).]

10) Income per head in Iraq is now the same as (or higher than) that in
Egypt, Iran and Jordan yet no-one starves in those countries.
Even if the first claim were true (which is most unlikely) this is clearly
the wrong comparison. The meaningful comparison is between the level of
resources available to Iraq (which are still very limited) and the scale of
its current needs (which are enormous).

None of the other countries listed have been subjected to the devastating
'coalition' assault of 1991 and over ten years of economic strangulation.
Before sanctions Iraq had spent decades developing: lowering levels of child
mortality; improving literacy, sanitation etc ... Much of this progress has
been destroyed by the 1991 Gulf War and ten years of sanctions.

11) Child mortality rates have actually fallen in northern Iraq.
According to UNICEF, who conducted the surveys which produced these figures
on child mortality, "the difference [in child mortality rates between the
north and south/center] cannot be attributed to the differing ways the Oil
for Food Program is implemented in the two parts of Iraq". The UN
Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Tun Myat, reiterated this point in a recent press
briefing, stating "that [the] improvement in nutrition in the north was not
due to differences in distribution, or the fact that the United Nations was
responsible for implementation of the programme in the north." (UN Press
Briefing, 19th November 2000).

Important differences (between the north and the south/center) include :

  "that the sanctions have not been so rigorously enforced in the north as
the border is more 'porous' than in the [south/center]" (UNICEF, August

  that the north (with roughly 15% of Iraq's population) has 50% of Iraq's
productive arable land (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, September

  that the north has "received 22% more per capita [than the south/center]
and gets 10% of all UN-controlled assistance in currency" while the rest of
the country receives only commodities (UNICEF, August 1999)

  "the fact that the north has received far more support per capita from
the international community than the south and centre of the country"
(UNICEF, August 1999)

According to the Economist 'the main reason for the relative prosperity of
Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region is that has an economic life beyond

12) 'Smart' sanctions are the answer.
According to the Economist, 'smart' sanctions offered 'an aspirin where
surgery is called for.'

'Smart' sanctions would continue to prevent the re-inflation of Iraq's
economy - a necessary precondition for the end of the humanitarian crisis -
whilst maintaining the current ban on foreign investment. Under 'smart'
sanctions Iraq's economy would continue to be run like a gigantic refugee

As one officer with a high-profile aid agency put it: 'It won't improve life
for the ordinary Iraqi ... It will do nothing to tackle the real issue - how
to stimulate the internal economy and allow civil society to come back.'
(FT, 1 June 2001)

'Smart' sanctions would also attempt to choke off the only revenues Iraq has
to pay its doctors and teachers and to install and distribute the goods it
purchases under the humanitarian programme. This is why former UN
Humanitarian Co-ordinators for Iraq, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck,
have condemned the proposal for actually 'tightening the rope around neck of
the average Iraqi citizen.'

Finally, note that it is incorrect to say that 'smart' sanctions would have
ended all restrictions on civilian imports: rather, they might have reduced
the extent to which the US and Britain currently obstruct the implementation
of the oil-for-food (see 7. above)

13) If sanctions are lifted Saddam Hussein will just spend all the money on
luxuries and the military.
According to the Financial Times 'Iraq's devastated economy' 'will not
revive ... while control over Iraq's oil revenues remains in the hands of
the UN, and foreign investment and credits are still prohibited.'

The Iraqi Government does not need to be forced to spend money on the Iraqi
people: while there is no doubt that private appropriation and military
expenditure are important priorities for the Iraqi leadership, the
historical record shows that a commitment to social welfare is also an
important government priority in its own right.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (, prior to the imposition of
sanctions the Iraqi welfare state was 'among the most comprehensive and
generous in the Arab world.'

A December 1999 report the International Committee of the Red Cross noted
that 'Just a decade ago, Iraq boasted one of the most modern infrastructures
and highest standards of living in the middle east' with a 'modern, complex
health care system" and 'sophisticated water-treatment and pumping
facilities.' Sanctions have destroyed all this.

Despite a major diversion of resources to war, child mortality declined by
40% during the 1980's. Since sanctions were imposed, child mortality has
more than doubled.

Looking forward, we must realise the importance of Baghdad's longstanding
commitment to public health and education, the role played by such
investments in securing the Ba'ath Party's appeal to its supporters, and the
huge pent-up demand for these public services caused by (and blamed on) the
economic sanctions. There is only one guarantee: as long as the economic
sanctions continue, so will the humanitarian crisis.

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