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[casi] Senior UN official 'would resign today' if it would end economic sanctions against Iraq.

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Voices in the Wilderness UK News Release

18th May 2002

08454560282/ 07947839992

Senior UN official 'would resign today'

if it would end economic sanctions against Iraq.

With the UN poised The day before the UN passed UNSCR resolution 1409 modifying the sanctions on 
Iraq, the most senior UN aid official working in the country, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator Tun 
Myat, has told a delegation of physicians and campaigners [1] that he would 'resign today' if it 
would end the embargo.  According to UNICEF the economic sanctions against Iraq have contributed to 
the deaths of at least 500,000 children since their imposition in August 1990.

'If by my resigning today sanctions would be lifted tomorrow I would be very happy do so' said Mr 
Myat, whose two predecessors, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, both resigned in protest over 
the impact that sanctions have had on Iraq's civilian population.

Asked about the new resolution, Mr Myat said that 'meaningful progress in the overall humanitarian 
situation' in Iraq can only happen with the resumption of normal economic activity. Asked if the 
new resolution could lead to such a resumption Mr Myat said 'no, I think that's fairly obvious as 
far as I'm concerned.'

According to Myat the existing humanitarian programme 'can never be a substitute for normal 
economic activity. No matter how much you try and modify [the existing UN humanitarian programme] 
it is not designed for - and it will never be - a substitute for normal economic activity.'

Asked about the wide range of goods available in the markets in Baghdad Mr Myat said 'The markets 
are quite full of things, the problem is whether or not there are people who have the puchasing 
power to buy them. Until such time as people can reasonably afford to buy and live naturally 
everything else you will see will only be superficial.'

One of the delegates at the meeting Gabriel Carlyle (27) of Oxford, UK said 'Tun Myat confirmed 
what I'd already seen with my own eyes. A few days ago in Basrah we met a family who, prior to the 
1991 Gulf War, owned  two cars and had a comfortable lifestyle with a freezer full of food. This 
family have now sold almost all of their possessions and are living in squalid conditions, 
dependent upon a food ration distributed by the Government."

"The new UN resolution will do little or nothing to help this family or millions of other like it. 
It will not restore their livelihoods and allow them to  earn a living wage. "

Voices delegates return Sunday 19 May 15:45 on flight RJ111.

Call 07947839992 or 07980 929763  to speak to them on their return.

Or call them in Jordan at the al Monzer Hotel on 00962-6-4639469 before Sunday 12pm


[1] Mr Myat met with members of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Voices in the Wilderness 
US/UK and Veterans for Peace at the UN compound in Baghdad. Last week the Voices delegation 
symbolically broke the sanctions by importing medical supplies and textbooks into Iraq without 
export licences, risking heavy jail sentences and / or fines.

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