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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 again. 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. 67-75.): 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 procurement. 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 Iran. 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 supply." 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 that: "... 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 http://www.viwuk.freeserve.co.uk/library/faq.html 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 cronies? 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 1999) · that the north (with roughly 15% of Iraq's population) has 50% of Iraq's productive arable land (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, September 2000) · 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 oil-for-food.' 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 camp. 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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk