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[casi] Preparing the Humanitarian Consequences of Possible Military Action Against Iraq

Hi all,

please find below 2 excerpts from the House of Commons' doc entitled

"Preparing the Humanitarian Consequences of Possible Military Action
Against Iraq"
published on 12 March 2003

1) Conclusions

The full full text is downloadable as PDF file from

This message is being sent at March 18, 2003 at 6:03 pm  MET.
When will it pass the admin test and will reach the list?




House of Commons
International Development

Fourth Report of Session 2002 –03

Volume I:
Report and Proceedings of the Committee
Ordered by The House of Commons to be printed 10 March 2003
HC 444 –I
Published on 12 March 2003 by authority of the House of Commons



42.It is essential that the same emphasis should be placed on the
humanitarian implications
of war against Iraq as on the military planning.It would appear that the
military have gone
ahead with their planning on the assumption that someone else will come
along to clear up
afterwards.We do not believe it is acceptable to wait until the war is over
before turning to
face the humanitarian consequences.Military planning must seek to minimise
the damage
to civilian infrastructure.Health,sanitation,irrigation and vital food
distribution networks
will suffer if Iraq ’s already dilapidated infrastructure is
destroyed.Despite USAID ’s claims
that food distribution will continue through oil-for-food,statements of
intent are insufficient
without acceptance of the financial and legal implications.The lack of
funding that is
immediately available has affected the ability of the UN to prepare.The
system may not have the capacity to cover the costs of delivering food up
to 15 million
people and reconstructing Iraq ’s infrastructure.

43.The role of the UN in coordination is central to the humanitarian
effort.The current
lack of coordinated leadership in dealing with the humanitarian issues,and
information-sharing,has hampered effective planning and
preparation.Military action
against Iraq will have major humanitarian consequences and may involve the
use of
chemical,biological and even nuclear weapons.There is a risk of ethnic
conflict and state
fragmentation in the immediate post-war period.We are concerned about how
these issues
would be managed in the absence of immediate post-war UN leadership.We
recognise that
some NGOs may perceive their neutral humanitarian position as being
compromised if they
operated under a military occupation.The military may inevitably have to
play the primary
role in providing humanitarian assistance during the conflict and will
undoubtedly be
present after it ends.A lead role planned for the UN in the immediate
aftermath of
hostilities may protect humanitarian space and facilitate cooperation
between the military
and humanitarian agencies without compromising the latter ’s impartial



(a)We recommend that DFID immediately issues a statement outlining its
humanitarian contingency plans.This would be a useful source of information
for humanitarian actors and would also provide reassurance that adequate
importance has been attached to the humanitarian consequences of military
action (paragraph 8).

(b)Notwithstanding the difference of opinion between UN and NGOs,and
understanding the need for confidentiality,we urge DFID and the UN,where
possible,as a principle to provide confidential briefings to NGOs to
effective planning (paragraph 10).

(c)There is a pressing need for a mechanism for coordinating the UK
humanitarian response so that UK NGOs can be connected with the UN,the
military and local NGOs to facilitate information sharing between all
actors.(paragraph 11).

(d)It is clear is that the scale of funds needed will be massive,given the
dependency of the majority of the Iraqi population on the OFF programme
which delivers $5 billion worth of commodities into the country in each six
month phase,the food element of which costs $250 million a month to
maintain.(paragraph 12).

(e)If delivery of food through OFF does breakdown it will affect the 60%of
Iraqis to whom the programme currently delivers,two-thirds of whom have no
other source of food.Even in northern Iraq,where the WFP have trebled the
ration to allow stockpiling,a food crisis would spread to northern Iraq
three months and would be severely worsened by a likely influx of
displaced persons.Humanitarian contingency planning must take account of
the serious risk that at least 40%of the population will be without any
of food in the absence of OFF rations.(paragraph 14).

(f)A new Resolution on OFF is needed to allow the UN Secretary General to
executive control as soon as hostilities begin (paragraph 16).

(g)It is to be noted that the current mandate for OFF ends on June 3 rd
(paragraph 16).

(h)As we have already commented,there may be problems with the delivery of
existing Government of Iraq contracts.Detailed planning around how a
replacement supply of food to OFF can be provided is necessary as is
consideration of how such a supply can be channelled through existing
mechanisms.Consideration has also to be given to alternative food
options,given the risk that local delivery outlets may not be operational
(paragraph 20).

(i)Planning for sites for IDP and refugee camps must include planning for
provision of water,sanitation,and health care.Food and non-food items such
as tents should be pre-positioned at camp sites.Camp planning must also
careful consideration of the risk of injury from unexploded ordnance and
landmines.(paragraph 23).

(j)Military planning should seek to minimise humanitarian consequences.
However,it is inevitable that there will be damage to Iraq ’s
is therefore essential that sufficient medical supplies are available to
deal with
any outbreak in disease.Vaccination programmes should be carried out now
to minimise casualties.Provision must also be made to address the potential
lack of clean drinking water and sanitation services (paragraph 25).

(k)In preparing to prevent the outbreak of ethnic conflict in Iraq the UK
Government should remember the experience of Afghanistan where an initial
“my enemy ’s enemy is my friend ” approach led the US to support regional
power holders,thereby fuelling warlords and creating barriers to security
stability.The best case scenario for military action would involve Iraqi
surrender with central authority structures remaining intact.However,it is
essential that in planning for the possible humanitarian consequences of
military action the worst case scenario,involving ethnic conflict,is
Safe havens could be a useful mechanism for preventing ethnic conflict but
essential that there is clear identification of who will be safe inside
havens and
how they will be protected.(paragraph 28).

(l)Ideally,international and Iraqi health workers would be trained in how
to deal
with the human impact of chemical or biological weapons and would receive
the same immunisations against biological weapons that are offered to
personnel.The UN has discarded the option of providing protective suits for
its staff because they will be impractical.In any case UN staff would be
withdrawn at the outset of any chemical or biological attack.Specialist
clothing and equipment are prohibitively expensive,putting them beyond the
reach of most agencies.Every effort must be made to ensure that information
on the supply of protective clothing is provided.Giving information on
weapons capability is an extremely difficult area for the military but it
is one
where there needs to be serious cooperation between the military and UN
agencies and NGOs (paragraph 29).

(m)Even without a further UN Security Council Resolution authorising
action,the UN will still be able to operate in Iraq under its humanitarian
mandate (paragraph 30).

(n)It is important that the UN should have the lead role in a post-conflict
Iraq as
soon as possible.There is a real danger that donors and NGOs would not play
a full part in the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq if the country were
administered by a military governor (paragraph 31).

(o)A second Security Council Resolution has been proposed but it is
mainly to reinforce Resolution 1441.The draft makes no provision for
humanitarian relief.We believe that the Resolution should take account of
likely humanitarian consequences of military action.Subsequent to any armed
conflict,a further Resolution will be needed to make provision for changes
the OFF programme to allow for its continuation during and after a
It should also set down what the UN ’s role will be after a conflict.In
Afghanistan we saw the importance of the role played,in the early days,by
UN Special Representative in balancing different interests and championing
and safeguarding the rights of civilians before,during and after military
action.Iraq will also benefit from a Special UN Representative.We believe
that an appointment should be made immediately,regardless of the plans of
the US military for the post-conflict stage (paragraph 32).

(p)We believe that one area in which the military could play an important
role is
policing and protection.We urge the military to develop plans to provide
protection,where requested,for humanitarian work if they have not already
done so .There have been reports of a plan which will include the
of UN peace keeping forces,or monitors.We endorse this proposal.
(paragraph 35).

(q)Military/humanitarian cooperation is an extremely difficult area.But the
difficulties have to be resolved now before any fighting begins (paragraph

(r)This underlines the case for having a lead role for the UN planned for
aftermath of hostilities.(paragraph 36).

(s)Based on the evidence we heard,the scale of the humanitarian need may
exceed the capacity of the international system.(paragraph 37).

(t)Despite pledges being made to a UN emergency fund at a conference in
on 15 –16 February,the indication is that the scale of humanitarian need
drastically outweigh the funds available and that there is a severe lack of
available immediately for planning and preparation.(paragraph 38).

(u)We are concerned that the international system lacks the financial and
resource ability to cope with multiple crises around the world and echo the
statement made by CARE International that:"We are,as the Secretary of
State ’s written evidence pointed out,very,very worried about the loss of
publicity of very serious humanitarian disasters which are in place at the
moment in Southern Africa,in East Africa and we now have West Africa with
the disruption in Côte d ’Ivoire".(paragraph 39).

(v)We call on the UN to clarify with Iraq ’s neighbours their attitude to
refugees in the event of armed conflict,whether or not they have signed the
refugee convention.(paragraph 40).

(w)Although Clare Short told us that humanitarian considerations must be
paramount,there are still concerns that this will not be the case.Christian
Aid ’s Roger Riddell said:"I am worried about a line of questioning which
suggests we do the war and then worry about the humanitarian consequences
afterwards.The Geneva Conventions require that those who engage in
military activity focus on civilians right from the start".Clare Short told
House that the:“simplistic view that we should get on with the war,after
which my Department and a few people can clean up,is ill-informed.I and my
Department have been fully engaged in trying to get the world to face the
humanitarian risks and make preparations ”.The Prime Minister told the
House that there needs to be:“a humanitarian plan that is every bit as
and well worked out as a military plan ”.We fully concur,but have yet to be
convinced that this is the case (paragraph 41).

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