Defing UN/US sanctions

Voices In The Wilderness 1460 W. Carmen Chicago, IL 60640 Tel.: (773) 784-8065 Fax: (773)

For immediate release Contact: Kathy Kelly or Rob Mapes May 15, 1997 773-784-8065 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------------- According to UN estimates the sanctions on Iraq have caused the deaths of 600,000 children since they were imposed in 1990.

In response to the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the UN/US imposed trade embargo on Iraq, four people will be leaving on May 26 to travel to Iraq to break the embargo by delivering $13,000 of donated medicine to hospitals in Iraq. This group will return to Chicago on June 9. Among the group is a Gulf War veteran named Erik Gustafson of Madison, WI. He and the others each risk 12 years in prison and one million dollar fines if they are convicted of violating these sanctions. The other members of the group are Barbara Lubin of the Middle East Children's Alliance, (Berkeley, CA); Rick McDowell from Akron, OH, a participant in two previous trips to Iraq and Mike Miles from Luck, WI, a seasoned campaigner for disarmament and human rights.

The delegation will hold a press conference and protest in Chicago at the Federal Building at Adams and Dearborn on June 10, at 11:00 a.m., the same day that the UN will vote on renewal of Resolution 986. . At least ten other cities in the US and other countries including Great Britain, Canada and Germany will hold similar protests. They will express solidarity with the delegation and ask that the UN take a risk, as did Erik Gustafson and the others in the delegation, and end all sanctions on Iraq.

While it is better than nothing at all, UN Resolution 986 (the "oil for food" deal) has not provided enough food or medicine to the Iraqi people. So far, not a single tablet of medicine has reached Iraq because contracts have been held up in the UN Sanctions Committee. Iraq claims the US has delayed many of the contracts. Meanwhile, the mortality rates in Iraq have continued to skyrocket. According to Iraq's Health Minister Umeed Mubarak, the mortality rate for children under 5 years old has gone from 540 deaths per month before the embargo to the current rate of 5,600 per month. Even UN Under-Secretary General Yasushi Akashi admitted after a recent trip to Iraq that the humanitarian problems remained serious and that conditions in the hospitals were deplorable.

Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end the UN/US sanctions against Iraq advocates nonviolent means to promote education about the effects of sanctions and publicly confronts the sanctions as often as possible. Publicity and promotion regarding the sixth delegation's travel is quite welcome. -30-

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