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16 March 1999
Support for smarter sanctions on Iraq could save 5,000 lives a month
A Cambridge-based student group, the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq, has welcomed the government's announcement of plans for "smarter sanctions". The announcement came as a written answer to a parliamentary question on Monday.
"This is a great step forward", claimed Colin Rowat, the campaign's coordinator. "Since coming to power this government has refused to recognise that there has been anything wrong with the sanctions that it supports against Iraq". Sanctions against Iraq were extended after its expulsion from Kuwait in 1991 to force compliance with a weapons inspection regime designed to last 90 days. Unicef, reporting last year on the effects of their eight year duration, found that a third of the child population is malnourished and that Iraqi hospitals report 5,000 more deaths monthly than they did a decade ago. "Morally and practically it is irrelevant if Iraqis are dying because Saddam abuses the sanctions or because the sanctions themselves kill", argued Rowat.
"As the UN panel on humanitarian issues in Iraq is due to report next month this new thinking can start saving lives very quickly", explained Rowat. His group is most hopeful about the French proposal made last month. "While keeping its eyes firmly on preventing Iraqi rearmament it, by removing restrictions on all but military and dual-use goods, seems the most able to allow ordinary Iraqis to rebuild their lives".
An American counter-proposal lifts the cap on oil sales that Iraq is allowed to make, a hollow gesture as low oil prices prevent Iraq from reaching the current cap. It seems to prefer keeping the Sanctions Committee, the secrecy of whose decisions has been used by veto-holders on the Security Council to block humanitarian imports for political reasons.
Original story: "Cook urges 'smarter' sanctions", Financial Times, 16 March, 1999.
For the Unicef figures see: April, 1998. Unicef. "Situation Analysis of Women and Children in Iraq - 1997".
For more information on the French proposal see the Financial Times, 18 January, 1999.
For reference to the Sanctions Committee's blocking of humanitarian contracts see: 22 February, 1999. United Nations. S/1998/187 [sic; S/1999/187?]. "Report of the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 6 of Security Council Resolution 1210 (1998)".
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