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[casi] UN accessory to humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq?

Dear List,

Morally, if perhaps not legally, the UN has been
an accessory to the crimes perpetrated for 12 years
by the sanctions regime. Now the UN led by
Kofi Annan has become an accessory after the fact
to the crimes perpetrated by the occupiers directly.

The UN lead by Kofi Annan has been watching from
the sidelines as the current human catastrophe is

-- It has not protested against the US/UK's utter
disregard of the Hague Regulations and the
Geneva Convention on the duties [of occupying
powers] that requires them to ensure the welfare
of the population.

-- It has not protested against the human rights
violations the US/UK are committing by depriving
the population of basic human needs: food, water,
medical care, proper burial for the dead... and
protection against attacks on people's lives and

-- It has done nothing to ensure that humanitarian
groups willing to provide the desperately needed
food, water, and medical care can do so in safety.

-- The UN has merely "urged" - and waited.

So in my view, the UN is guilty as charged. But this
does not help the suffering Iraqis.

Here is an example of what they are up against:

According to IRC reports, the psychiatric clinic
El Rashad in Baghdad was ransacked between
April 9 and 11. The looters took almost everything
and set fire to the rest. All of the 1,050 patients
had to flee and several women patients were raped.

About 300 of the patients have returned, said Amir Abi,
the director of the clinic. But they now live in
conditions not fit for human beings since the looters
had destroyed everything - including patients' records.
There is hardly any food or water. The IRC said it
has supplied the clinic with 30,000 litres of water.
[APA/AP/sda in Der Standard, April 18]

This is just one of the many horror stories that
have created the human catastrophe in Iraq. Or
should I say 'liberation' catastrophe?

The ICRC reports that Al-Kindi Hospital has been
ransacked completely - even the beds were taken.
The fate of the patients, after the Hospital was
abandoned by its staff, is largely unknown. Many
other hospitals and health facilities in Baghdad
have closed their doors in fear of looters.

(Ali, the young boy who lost both his arms and
all of his family, is in a hospital in Jordan
He is feeling a little better.)

Fadela Chaib, Spokeswoman for the World Health
Organization (WHO) has stated that "Security and
Health" cannot be maintained without "civil order":
"it is virtually impossible for hospitals to
function effectively".

And these are Secretary-General Kofi Annan's
comments on this human catastrophe:

With keen perception Kofi Annan "noted that there
appears to be no functioning government in Iraq".
This must be the understatement of all times.

Mr. Annan also "reaffirmed that the coalition had
the responsibility of the welfare of the people in
the areas of Iraq under their control." But the
"coalition", it seems, needs more than reaffirmation.
No doubt they are well acquainted with the Hague
Regulations and the articles Geneva Convention.

To be fair, Kofi Annan is doing something while
the looting and lawlessness continues in Baghdad,
Basra, Kirkuk, Mosul... Mr. Annan is waiting:

     "The UN is awaiting US CENTCOM's official policy
     position on this extremely critical situation.
     This was expected yesterday but has not yet been

In other words, if the "US CENTCOM's official policy"
favours disregard for the Hague Regulations and the
Geneva Convention, Mr. Annan will just wait - while
people are starving and dying.
(Perhaps he finds it difficult to annoy his US
patrons who procured him his position.)

These quotes are taken from a UN report "Aid for Iraq"
(Transcript of the UN humanitarian briefing in Amman,
Jordan), April 11, 2003.

This report includes a "Questions and Answers" part.
The questioners are presumably the press.

One of the questions, addressed to Nejib Friji, UN
Spokesman, aims to find out if the UN is going to
_wait_ forever, assuming USUK shirks its responsibility:

     "Q: (unrecorded) we seem to get a response that
     indicates that they either don't feel it is their
     job or they don't have enough people there to
     handle the security situation. It seems that if
     this is what we are waiting for, then that is not
     going to happen. What do you consider is a solution?"

The UN spokesman seems to consider "waiting" the
solution: "I am afraid that we have to refer you to
what the Secretary-General said, that it is the full
responsibility of the occupying powers..." etc., etc.

But the questioner persists:

     "Q: I don't mean to be argumentative, given they
     know this call is being made & their response
     haven't been pro active, in the meantime you see
     people dying, if they don't respond, is there
     anything the UN can do without their help?"

Answer: "waiting": the occupying powers are responsible
etc. - "they are the only ones who can take action."
The UN can but wait: "We have all urged... yet we don't
have a reply. We are waiting patiently for some action
to be taken. It is not happened yet... We are waiting,
we cannot go & deliver safely otherwise."

Again, the questioner persists:

     "Q: What has been the response of Center Com.
     to the appeals, anything definite?"

Short answer: "We are still waiting for a response."

So Mr. Annan is "waiting" for a USUK response...
and for Iraqi children and adults to die for want,
be killed by thugs (US or locals), flee or
otherwise 'liberate' themselves from their wretched
lives. (The brutal sanctions regime must look
wholesome by comparison.)

And while he is waiting, the UN Commission on Human
Rights is holding its annual session in Geneva.
Presumably the Commission will be discussing serious
questions of human rights violations.

On this occasion, the human rights violations
Mr. Annan has left in limbo were put forth by some
100 members of several Iraqi groups. These Iraqis
have protested against the "UN's spectator role"
in the catastrophic situation in Iraq. On Thursday
(April 17) the Iraqi demonstrators handed a letter
to Kofi Annan outlining their grievances:

"We are deeply concerned", the letter said, "about
the spectator role the UN is playing in this
human catastrophe, about the violations of human
rights, and about the condescending attitude towards
the people of Iraq."

Demonstrating outside the United Nations building
in Geneva, the Iraqi protesters spoke out against
the US-British occupation in Iraq. They were
dismayed, they said, that the US and Britain will
protect Iraq's oil wells but not its museums and
libraries. And they demanded that the occupiers
take action to provide security and stability in

They also spoke out against the US-sponsored
opposition (Chalabi & Co) presented in Nassiriyah
last Tuesday. These people have not been elected
by the Iraqis but by the US, said Abdulbaki
Al-Khazraji of the Arabic Cultural Centre in Geneva.
[Source: Der Standard, April 17]

Life in Iraq: hellish.

To Baghdadis "It feels like living on the Titanic"

The looting is only part of the truth. And many
Baghdadis believe that the Americans intended to
have this mayhem that is wrecking Iraq. "After one
week of looting and unrest, people are screaming
for law and order and the Americans are able to
take ruthless measures to contain us", said
Muayed al-Windawi, a university professor.
["Report from Baghdad", Der Standard, April 16]

This makes sense: sponsored anarchy as a resistance
breaker. Israeli-style 'pacification' would have
caused worldwide outrage - and would have been
counterproductive to the occupiers.

Muhammad Baqer al-Hakim, chairman of the SCRI goes
further than "intended unrest". He has warned
against a "a civil war" organized by the Americans
in Iraq.

[Source: "Bush asks for lifting Iraq's sanctions";
"al-Hakim accuses US of organizing a civil war"]

I am attaching a note from Kathy Kelly. It is
dated April 10. She describes the current
situation through the eyes of an Iraqi mother,
Umm Zainab - and through the eyes of occupying
soldiers. My apologies if it has been posted before.

--Elga Sutter

------------Fwd Message------------
XVI. Note from Kathy Kelly in Baghdad
At 9:40 PM -0500 4/12/03, wrote:

Dear Friends,

It was with great relief that we received an update from
Kathy today. Only through unreliable satellite connection
have we received sporadic word from our team still in
Baghdad. We think Kathy's letter, which follows, speaks
volumes to the current tragedy playing itself out on the
streets of Baghdad and, undoubtedly, throughout Iraq.

Please bear with us as we discern next steps, not just
with our team in Iraq but here at home as well. As
government and media pundits alike insist that this war is
"ending," we urge the doubling of efforts to call
attention to the fact that war doesn't end for those who
have lost Limbs, loved ones, homes, and precious sense of
security, to blind greed.

Hello Friends,
> >> April 10, 2003

Early this morning, Umm Zainab sat quietly in the Al Fanar
lobby staring at the parade of tanks, APCs, and Humvees
that slowly rolled into position along Abu Nuwas Street.
Tears streamed down her face. "I am very sad," she told
me. "Never I thought this would happen to my country. Now,
I think, my sadness will never go away."

Wanting to give Umm Zainab some quiet time, I took her two
toddlers, Zainab and Miladh, outside to enjoy the sunshine
and fresh air. Several soldiers stood guard not far from
me and the children. I wanted to bring the children over
to them, to let them behold these tiny beauties. But, no,
too much of a risk -- what if it would add to Umm Zaineb's

Eun Ha Yoo, our Korean Peace Team friend, unrolled a huge
artwork created by a Korean artist, Chae Pyong Doh, and
sweetly laid it out in the intersection just outside the
Al Fanar. As I write, Neville Watson and Cathy Breen are
taking their turns sitting in the middle of it.

A map of the world covers the top third; grieving victims
of war fill the middle third; piles of ugly weapons with
various flags scattered over them bulge out of the bottom
third. Neville has set up his prayer stool and a small
wooden cross where he sits. Cathy is wearing her "War Is
Not The Answer" t-shirt.

At least a dozen soldiers have stopped to talk with us
since we began the vigil at 3 this afternoon. "OK, can you
tell us your side of the story?" asked one young man. "Can
I sit there with you for awhile?" asked another.

Each of them has assured us that they didn't want to kill
anyone. One young man said he was desperate for financial
aid to care for his wife and child while struggling to
complete college studies and work full time. He felt he
could gain some respect in this world and also help his
family by joining the Marines. He's relieved that he was
stationed at the rear of a line coming up from the south.
His role was to guard prisoners. He didn't shoot anyone.
But he saw US soldiers shoot at a civilian car with three
passengers as it approached. The child in the car survived
- both of his parents were immediately killed. "They could
have shot the tires," said the soldier. "Some just want to

One soldier offered earnest concern for us, saying "You're
sitting in a dangerous place."We smiled. "Thanks," I said,
"but we've been in a dangerous place for the past three
weeks."He was puzzled. "What they mean," said a soldier
standing next to him, "is that they've been here all
through three weeks of bombing."

"Do you try to put yourselves in our shoes?" asked one
soldier after he'd respectfully listened to me explain
major contradictions between US rhetoric and practice
regarding Iraq. "Well, yes," I said, "We try. We're taking
the same risk as you by being here, and perhaps an even
greater risk since we're unarmed and unprotected.
Actually, just now we're lucky not to be burdened by all
that heavy gear.""Yeah," said the soldier, "It's really
hot. I don't have much of an appetite. I just give away
most of my rations, - gave 'em to these people."

Hassan, one of the shoeshine boys, came over to join us,
carrying a ration packet. He opened it, came across
processed apple spread, and a few other curious items,
then decided to donate it to us. Now the flies have
discovered it.

It looks like we're on "lock-down" for a while longer.
Iraqi minders are gone, -- US soldiers are here. They're
uncoiling barbed wire at the intersection. Anyone wanting
to walk across the street is stopped, questioned, and
searched. Since I began this letter, there have been four
huge explosions nearby. Looting and burning continue, here
in Baghdad. I'm sick of war -- disgusted to the point of
nausea. I think all of us at this intersection, residents
of the Al Fanar, journalists in the Palestine Hotel next
door, and soldiers on patrol, share the same queasy ill

The line, "War is the health of the state" makes no sense
whatsoever here.

With love,
Kathy Kelly

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