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[casi] UNICEF Iraq chief tells UK activist of consequences of US attack

Press Release
Tel: Al Fanar Hotel: 09641 7172833/7177440/7188007 room 208
Please note that Iraq is 3 hours ahead of GMT
UNICEF Iraq chief tells UK activist of consequences of US attack

UNICEF Iraq head Mr Carel de Rooy said in an interview with British peace
campaigner Jo Wilding that if Iraq's power stations are incapacitated in an
attack there will be severe knock-on effects on the civilian infrastructure.
Specifically there are risks to the sewage, water and health care systems.

Sewage pipes are still being replaced after being damaged in the 1991
bombardment when they became irreparably blocked due to the lack of
electricity. Some ruptured, while in others the effluent backed up,
overflowing through inspection covers and flooding streets and cellars.
Currently 500,000 tons of raw sewage every day are dumped into Iraq's fresh
water bodies. In many places, even in Baghdad, there is still no link to the
main line. Mr de Rooy explained that the system is currently in a much worse
position to withstand a bombardment than it was in 1991.

He said that water is being stored in tankers and emergency generators have
been installed at water pumping plants, which will operate as long as fuel
stores last, but these will not be adequate for the needs of the population,
with an average share of 15 litres per person per day for all needs,
compared with an already insufficient 150 litres per day. Community wells
will assist, but even so a leaked UN document estimates that just 39% may
have even rationed access to water in the event of war.

Mr de Rooy pointed out the high level of dependence on the state which has
resulted from over 12 years of UN sanctions. The government food ration is
distributed to every resident, while other essential goods are heavily
subsidised so as to be free or almost free, including electricity, water,
petrol and some non-ration foodstuffs. In addition many people are employed
by the government, private sector industry having largely collapsed under
the intense suppression of the economy. Again this dependence makes the
civilian population far less capable of withstanding attack than they were
in 1991.

Asked whether he had any message for Tony Blair and George Bush, Mr de Rooy
said that he did not concern himself with politics but with the children of
Iraq. The effects which he talked about were already well-documented in UN
papers and other reports.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of
civilian persons in time of war, effects cease to be collateral and become
intentional when they are inevitable and foreknown. It is prohibited to
attack or destroy objects indispensable to the civilian population, and the
presence of military objectives within a population does not deprive it of
its civilian character. There is already a 2300 Megawatt per day deficit in
Iraq's electricity supply. Any attack on any power station will be a grave
breach of international and British law.

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