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Dear List At Tony Blair's press conference yesterday, he was specifically asked about the consequences of war on the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi population. The question was asked by a journalist from the Mirror, on the basis of a report released by CASI last Friday (all references are below). In his reply, Blair quoted a senior UN official who has now claimed that his words were mistranslated. Blair was asked: "A new UN report for Kofi Annan is warning over one million Iraqi children face death from malnutrition in the event of war. What is your reaction to that?" Part of Blair's reply is: "Indeed I think I am right in saying that the UN Commissioner last week, Mr de Melo, who spoke about the fact that if there was regime change in Iraq, then the position of the Iraqi people could then improve because of the appalling circumstances in which they are living today." The individual he's referring to is the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Sergio Vieira de Mello. The UNHCHR has issued a clarification, claiming that de Mello's remarks were mistranslated: de Mello actually said: "What is certain is that wars lead to violations of human rights and therefore the shorter they are, the better. Therefore, everything depends as well on the duration of wars. If the war were short, we could expect that the post war period might improve the human rights situation." http://www.unhchr.ch/news/madrid.htm Although the statement is ambiguous, it's a far cry from Blair's claim. Blair's other claim in response as part of this question, that: "you will also find from what the UN has been saying that there are appalling humanitarian consequences happening now in Iraq, and they are not happening because of America or Britain, they are happening because of Saddam" - is pure fantasy. The UN Security Council's own panel on sanctions wrote in 1999 that: "Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of the war" - para.45 of http://www.casi.org.uk/info/panelrep.html The other relevant references are as follows: Transcript of the Prime Minister's press conference on the 18th February 2003 http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page7231.asp CASI Press release: Over 1 Million Iraqi Children Might Die in War - Secret UN Document (17 February 2003) http://www.casi.org.uk/pr/pr030217.html United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Integrated Humanitarian Contingency Plan for Iraq and Neighbouring Countries" [Confidential Draft] (January 7, 2003), via: http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/internal.html Gary Jones, "Million Iraqi Kids Would Die in Conflict", Daily Mirror (London), 19 February 2003: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12654002&method=full&siteid=50143 Glen. _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk