|(Today Voices applauds
the efforts of two brave men:
George Galloway of the U.K,
and Hans von Sponeck of the U.N.)
BAGHDAD (February 13, 2000 11:29 a.m. EST
British Labor lawmaker George Galloway
the weekly Iraqi newspaper Al-Rai said
The mission has been named "the mercy flight,"
Last year Galloway brought medicine to
|BAGHDAD, Feb 14 (Agence France Presse) -
UN aid coordinator Hans von Sponeck has quit his post, following the example of his predecessor who was driven out by US charges of turning soft on sanctions-hit Iraq,
a UN official said Monday. Von Sponeck, who has held the job since September 1998 and stayed on in Baghdad during a US and British air war that December, is to stand down on March 31.
Von Sponeck has since last year come under fire from Washington and London for criticising the sanctions which the United Nations imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
He replaced another critic of the sanctions regime, Dennis Halliday of Ireland, who now campaigns for it to be lifted.
In what proved to be the last straw for Washington, von Sponeck warned last week in a CNN television interview that the UN programme was failing to meet even the "minimum requirements" of Iraq's 22 million population.
"As a UN official, I should not be expected to be silent to that which I recognise as a true human tragedy that needs to be ended," he said.
"How long should the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this, be exposed to such punishment for something that they have never done?" he asked.
In contrast to the US criticism, Iraq's official newspapers on Friday paid a glowing tribute to von Sponeck, drawing a distinction from past UN weapons inspection chiefs.
It said von Sponeck had "denounced, from his first-hand knowledge the deterioration of the sanitary and nutritional situation in Iraq."
The nine-year-old embargo has cost more than 1.26 million lives, including some 500,000 children under five, mostly due to malnutrition and the collapse of the health care sector under sanctions, according to Iraqi authorities.