CARE warns of starvation in Iraq

September 10, 1997

Forwarded by Ibrahim Ebeid

Iraq's oil-for-food deal approved by the United Nations is not meeting that country's needs and people there are starving, an Australian based relief agency said Tuesday.

CARE International released a statement saying the deal approved last December was not bringing enough food and medicine to Iraq's people and that "children, the sick and other vulnerable groups are facing starvation and death.''

Lockton Morrissey, CARE's Middle East regional manager, said in Amman, Jordan that, "Children, mothers, the aged and sick were all cared for before 1990, but are now dying while the outside world mistakenly believes it has solved Iraq's problems with the much-delayed oil-for-food shipments.'' The deal "will barely keep the strongest of the population of Iraq on their feet,'' he said.

Morrissey, who returned from a 10-day visit to Iraq last week, said conditions were worsening in Iraq despite the U.N. program. "Diseases, malnutrition and dehydration have gone up, while infrastructure, water quality, health services, medical supplies and the value of people's wages have gone down,'' he said.

Morrissey called for an "urgent reevaluation of the world's policy toward Iraq to ensure humanitarian needs are fully met.'' Under the terms of the deal, Iraq can sell $1 billion of oil every three months to pay for food and medicine for its 20 million people, with part of the money going to war reparations. Before the Gulf War, it earned an estimated $16 billion every year from its crude sales.

In other news Argentinean soccer superstar Diego Maradona will play in Iraq for free to protest the UN economic sanctions against that country. Maradona's manager, Sebastien Menendez, said the soccer player would pay for his own trip to Baghdad so he could "share with the Iraqi children and people their ordeal," according to an Iraqi News Agency. Maradona wants to visit Iraq to show that the economic "siege" of Iraq is a "silent deadly bomb.

The UNís arms envoy Richard Butler will arrive in Iraq today to assess results of a month-long inspection of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Butler visit is in preparation for an October report to the UN Security Council.

Jo Lomas, special assistant to the director of the Baghdad Ongoing Monitoring and Verification (OMV) center said Butler, the new Australian chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) would meet Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz before he leaves on Tuesday.

Lomas said Butler would evaluate the results of a month-long arms inspection that he had agreed on with Aziz late in July. Some six UN inspection teams have visited Iraq since then and carried out several inspections and met with Iraqi officials. Head of OMV Nils Carlstrom said last week the teams that visited Iraq in the past month had completed ``very important'' work to close remaining gaps in Iraq's prohibited weapons. Iraq has been under UN sanctions since August 1997