"The Killing Fields",

by Ghazi Assali of ADC (New Orleans)

From Free Arab Voice August 2 , 1997

It is not Cambodia, Rwanda, or Bosnia, but it is and has been Iraq since the end of the Gulf war in 1991.

As a result of that war, economic sanctions have been imposed on Iraq with the purpose of punishing the entire country's population for the deeds of their leadership.

Does it sound like collective punishment? I believe it is, with the effect of causing the death of over 700,000 children since the END of hostilities!

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported a last year that more than one million Iraqis have died- 567,000 of them children- as a direct consequence of economic sanctions...as many as 12% of children surveyed in Baghdad are wasted, 28% stunted, and 29% underweight.

Each ten minutes, a child under five dies in Iraq, totaling 4,500 every month from hunger and disease according to UNICEF.

Up to 95% of all pregnant women in Iraq suffer from anemia, and thus will give birth to weak, malnourished infants. Most of these infants will either die before reaching the age of five due to the lack of food and basic medicines or will be permanently scarred.

When asked by Leslie Stahl on 60 minutes (after Leslie's trip to Iraq) on May 12, 1996 about the devastation she had seen among the children of Iraq, Madeleine Albright, then United Nations Ambassador answered: "It is a hard decision, Leslie, but we think the price ... is worth it". An answer worthy of a tyrant or a bloody dictator!!!

Economic sanctions are a weapon of mass destruction with its victims being the weakest sections of society: the poor, the elderly, and especially children.

When we destroy the water purification, sewage treatment and medical care systems of a country, and then deny it the technical and economic means to restore these systems, we are basically allowing biological disease organisms in untreated water and sewage to kill the civilian population.

Moreover, the U.N. permission to sell $4 billion worth of oil (in a year) to buy food to stop the genocide is nowhere sufficient to solve the problem since it only trickles down to $7.50 a month per person after paying for war reparations and repairing pipelines.

As for the environmental impact of firing more than 500 tons of highly toxic and radioactive depleted uranium (DU) during the war by allied forces, more than 70% of the uranium oxidizes into a fine aerosol mist which is inhaled into the lungs contaminating the food and water supply, and resulting in numerous immune system related diseases, cancers, congenital deformities, leukemia, and renal and hepatic dysfunction which are occurring all over Iraq and among US, UK, and other allied soldiers.

Isn't it about time to stop the massacre?

The Geneva conventions stated that the "..starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited". The Iraqi people are forced to live in poverty, watch their malnourished children die, live in sewage flooded areas, and receive inadequate medical services due to the sanctions.

Antibiotics, graphite for pencils, tires, chlorine to purify the water, school textbooks, etc... are not military supplies, so why in God's name are we preventing such items to enter Iraq?

It is time to end the genocide and stop killing the children of Iraq.

It is time for human decency and sympathy for those kids who are dying just because they're born in what used to be known as the cradle of civilization.