Sanctions Hurt Children More Than Saddam
Excerpted from the Wednesday, January 17, 2001 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
by Larry Johnson,
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Foreign Desk Editor
By the end of the 47-day Persian Gulf War, an estimated 100,000 Iraqis had been killed.
Today, after more than 10 years of crippling economic sanctions, United Nations officials and human rights groups say another 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, have died as a result of sanctions-related diseases.
The sanctions, despite the hopes of many Western leaders, have had little apparent effect on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. He remains firmly in control. But the sanctions have had a devastating effect on Iraq's 22 million people.
Each month in Iraq, thousands of infants die of malnutrition-related illnesses that many believe would not be a problem except for the sanctions restricting the shipment of food and medicine.
According to U.N. reports and Seattle Post-Intelligencer interviews in Baghdad, since 1991, children under 5 died from malnutrition-related diseases in numbers estimated at between 2,690 and 5,357 a month.
| An Iraqi child in an advanced stage of leukemia.
A shroud is
being used to keep flies off him as all the windscreens are
broken. With no comprehensive drug treatment available
for leukemia, this hospital, along with the majority of others
in Iraq, records a 100% death rate for this disease in children.
-Photo by Grant Wakefield
BASRA, Iraq, Jan 17 (AFP) - Residents of Iraq's second largest city are filled with dread at the growing debate over depleted uranium (DU) munitions and suspected links to cancer, as Iraq marks the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War.
"Leukaemia and radioactive pollution are now the number one topic of conversation among the people here in Basra," said student Saleh Neema.
"People are worried and living in fear of contracting cancerous diseases because of the pollution" from DU bullets fired by the US-led allies during the six-week war that broke out on January 17, 1991, said merchant Abdullah Hamid.
Iraq was hit with the force of seven nuclear bombs in 1991, according to civil defence chief General Kassem al-Shamri, calculating on the basis of 141,921 tonnes of ammunition with which the country was pummelled in the Gulf War.
As many as 940,000 rounds of DU were used. That, together with the explosion of two allied military vehicles loaded with DU arms, "polluted the environment and caused great damage to the public's health," he said.
Al-Jumhuriya, an official daily, has blamed DU for the deaths of 50,000 Iraqi children in 1991 alone and said it was behind a dramatic increase in cancer rates over the past decade, citing a report from Iraqi experts. The worst polluted areas, covering more than 15 square kilometres (six square miles), were the Rumaila oil field, Al-Shamiya airport and the Kuwaiti border area, all not far from Basra, it said.
Iraq has long argued that US and British use of DU weapons during the Gulf conflict caused "irreparable damage" to its people and environment, also pointing to previously unknown congenital deformities among infants.
VOICES notes: for a truly horrifying photo gallery of infants’ photos (including Gulf Vet kids) see: www.wakefieldcam.freeserve.co.uk/extremedeformities.htm