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Re: Summary S-G report of 8 Sept 2000

> 3) The humanitarian situation - unreported
> Curiously, the trend towards omitting data on the humanitarian situation
> is also continuing...

Thank you for the helpful summary Mil.  Yes, there does seem to be a lot
of politics taking place behind the scenes of these reports.  For example,
the recent FAO/WFP report following their final mission was held up for
about a month and a half after being prepared.  No reasons were apparently
given for the delay.

Possibly more significantly, the Unicef 1999 child mortality survey
collected information on "cause of death" (the report is available from; see page 5 by the internal
numbering or page 4 by the PDF file numbers). While mortality rate
information has now been published, none of the cause of death information
has been released, over a year later.

> Reports on the level of child malnutrition were first reworded - chronic
malnutrition became 'mild' malnutrition - and now are absent entirely.

This, I think, is a different issue.  Malnutrition is classified along two
"dimension": severity and type.  As to the first, someone can be "mildly
malnourished", "malnourished" or "severely malnourished".  I need to be
slightly technical here, for a reason that will be seen in a second:
technically, someone if "mildly malnourished" if they are one standard
deviation or more below the average in a measure of nutrition.  A standard
deviation is a statistical measure of "distance".  Someone is
"malnourished" if they are two or more standard deviations below the
average; someone is "severely malnourished" if they are three or more
standard deviations below average.  Therefore, everyone who is severely
malnourished is also malnourished and mildly malnourished.

Along the second dimension, of type someone can be: 

1. "chronically malnourished" (or "stunted") if s/he is of below average
height for her/his age; 

2. "generally malnourished" (or "underweight") if s/he is of below average
weight for her/his age; or

3. "acutely malnourished" (or "wasted") if s/he is of below average weight
for her/his height.

Therefore, "mild malnutrition" and "chronic malnutrition" are different
categories, not just different wordings.  The former refers to people one
or more standard deviation below average in a measure of general (I think)
malnutrition, weight for age.  The latter refers to those two or more
standard deviations below average in a measure of height for age.

Our March 1999 background document reports a bit on some of the
consequences of these forms of malnutrition at:

Finally, I have had some difficulty in assessing this report wondering as
well whether information has been intentionally kept out of it.  Part of
the background that I understand to lie behind this report is: Benon Sevan
in the New York Office of the Iraq Programme has been trying for some time
to reduce the "reporting requirements" of his office.  Currently, the OIP
produces a report every 90 days on the "oil for food" programme.  The
Security Council has repeatedly rejected these attempts to reduce the
reporting (although has allowed, on occasion, reports and deadlines to be

The report that we have just been discussing is a "90 day report", the
report released at the mid-point of an "oil for food" phase (which runs
for 180 days).  I therefore wonder whether the Sevan has decided that,
although he may still be required to report every 90 days, he's not
required to produce long reports that often.  Perhaps he is thinking that
the 180 day report will be the long one.  It will therefore be interesting
to see what that looks like.

Against this hypothesis, one of my sources in the OIP tells me that the
shortness of this report reflects uncertainty by the leadership of the OIP
as to what _should_ be reported.  My source did not suggest that this was
a question of politics so much as one of what the report's "users" needed.

I don't fully understand the situation but do hope that the above has been
somewhat helpful.

Best wishes,

Colin Rowat

Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq               fax 0870 063 5022
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