Monday, November 28, 2005

Iraq battles starvation

Original Chimes Article Here

Call to Justice:
Iraq battles starvation

It is a well-known fact that the rest of the world does not enjoy the same standard of living that North Americans do.

Although we often take our full stomachs for granted, we do manage every so often to feel some guilt when we are confronted with images of starvation.

We feel sorry for these starving people, and we want to do what we can to help them. It is interesting, then, that many North Americans watch without protest as the U.S. government inflicts starvation on the people of Iraq.

As we all remember, Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. In response, the United Nations, imposed sanctions on Iraq, attempting to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.

However, once the Gulf War was over, and Iraq was pushed out of Kuwait, the sanctions remained.

On April 3, 1991, the United Nations told Iraq what it must do to have the sanctions removed. Iraq had to destroy its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. After several years, Iraq still has its weapons, and sanctions have produced a disastrous effect on the people of Iraq.

Although we have long since moved on, for the Iraqi people the Gulf War continues. The sanctions effect the actual leadership of Iraq very little. It is the citizens of Iraq who must pay for U.S. foreign policy. The price is a heavy one.

Approximatly 1.5 million people in Iraq have died as a direct result of the sanctions. Over half of those killed by the sanctions have been children under the age of five. Of the children surviving, one-third are severly malnourished. Many have developed physical and mental damage as a result of the starvation that will stay with them forever.

Not only do the sanctions cause starvation, but other devastating effects are also produced. Because medical supplies are not readily available, World Health Organizations estimates that Iraq’s health care system is on the verge of collapsing.

Spare parts necessary to supply the civilian population with water and sanitation are also missing.

The sanctions have also caused economic disparity. Several household incomes have collasped, and combined with Iraq’s hyperinflation, this has increased the number of street children and beggars enourmously

Finally, 10 years of sanctions have produced an entire generation of Iraqi children who have been denied books, pencils and erasers. One quarter of school age children in Iraq have been forced to stop attending school all together. In attempting to strike at Saddam Hussein we have crushed the people of Iraq instead.

In an attempt to stop the situation from getting any worse, the United Nations implemented what is called the “Oil for Food” deal. Iraq was allowed to export some of their oil and receive food, medicine and humanitarian supplies in return. However, the “Oil for Food” deal has done little to ease the suffering. Much of the money made from the sale of the oil goes to the U.N. Compensation Fund and for the United Nation’s cost in running the program.

Most of the households who received food had it last for only 20 days or less. UNICEF reported in November 1997 that “there is no sign of any improvement since Security Council Resolution 986/1111 [Oil for Food] came into force.”

An then there is the bombing campaign. The bombing did not end with the conclusion of Operation Desert Fox; it simply retreated to the back page of the newspaper. In fact, since Operation Desert Fox ended, more bombs have been dropped on Iraq than were dropped during the official campaign, with three times as many targets.

This August, France criticized U.S. and British air strikes on Iraq, calling them “out of control.” It is not unusual for bombs to accidentally land in residential areas.

What is worse, the bombs have been causing enviromental damage. Three hundred fifty tons of depleted Uranium have been dropped on Iraq in the form of United States bombs during war time alone. The entire area has been contaminated for generations. An increase in childhood cancers, and in some areas a 56 percent increase in Leukemia, have been blamed on the bombs. Also the number of deformed fetuses in Iraq have increased as a result. We have mutilated a generation.

After 10 years of sanctions, it should be clear to the United States that this is not going to be the way we are going to force Saddam to say “uncle.”

We have already killed millions of Iraqi people to get our way. We should stop before more needless deaths occur.

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