Frontline World

IRAQ - Truth and Lies in Baghdad, November, 2002


THE STORY
Synopsis of "Truth and Lies in Baghdad"

INTERVIEW WITH SAM KILEY
Undercover in Iraq


IRAQ'S RULING CLASS
Saddam's Family Tree and Son Uday


U.N. SANCTIONS
Are They Helping or Hurting?


PRESS IN IRAQ
Reporting from a Closed State


RELATED FRONTLINE REPORTS
Coverage of Saddam's Regime


FACTS & STATS
Country Profile of Iraq


LINKS & RESOURCES
Human Rights, Politics, Weapons


MAP

REACT TO THIS STORY
   


The Debate Over Sanctions

Al-Wia Hospital, Baghdad

After the Gulf War, the United Nations imposed strict economic sanctions on Iraq that critics charge have led to the deaths of more than a million people -- the majority of them children. Saddam Hussein claims the deaths are in excess of one and a half million. Recent reports in leading newspapers and research studies in medical journals now suggest those numbers may be exaggerated. Still, a heated debate continues over the impact of the sanctions and over whether the United Nations and in particular the United States are responsible or whether Saddam himself has blocked humanitarian aid to further his own propaganda war.

As early as 1991, the U.N. Security Council acknowledged that sanctions were causing the Iraqi people undeniable suffering and proposed an oil-for-food humanitarian program to alleviate malnutrition and disease. The plan allowed Iraq limited sales of oil with revenues to be placed in a U.N.-controlled account for the purchase of approved food and medical supplies. Saddam rejected this program as an infringement of his sovereignty. After years of negotiations, Baghdad finally agreed to the program in 1996 with the first deliveries of aid arriving in 1997. Each year since then the Security Council has increased the Oil-for-Food program, and according to Secretary General Kofi Annan, Iraq now has sufficient resources to alleviate life-threatening disease and hunger.

Explore reports and links from many sources and join the conversation.

RESOURCES AND ORGANIZATIONS

"Impact of Sanctions," U.S. Department of State
According to the U.S. State Department, "Sanctions are not intended to harm the people of Iraq. That is why the sanctions regime has always specifically exempted food and medicine." On this Web page, you'll find links to more information on the Iraq Oil-for-Food program, the U.S. policy on the enforcement of the sanctions and the alleged role oil smuggling has played in getting around the economic impact of the sanctions.

Permanent Mission of Iraq to the United Nations, New York
At Iraq's U.N. mission Web site, information about the devastating effect sanctions are having upon Iraqi society is presented on a black background, "in mourning of the Iraqi children who are dying on a daily basis due to the continued imposition of the unjust sanctions on the people of Iraq." According to the Web site, more than 84,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 died in 2001 -- alleged casualties of the sanctions. Actual causes of death are not listed.

Voices in the Wilderness
A joint American-British Chicago-based organization, Voices in the Wilderness has been campaigning since 1996 to end the U.N. sanctions levied after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Fifty delegations from Voices in the Wilderness have traveled to Iraq, and recently the organization has been "maintaining a constant presence in Iraq to stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people." At one recent demonstration, co-founder Kathy Kelly and 11 other members of the organization protested outside the U.N. building in Baghdad and made reference to the deaths of "hundreds of thousands" of Iraqi children as a result of the sanctions.

Iraq Action Coalition
An online media resource center for groups and activists, the Iraq Action Coalition features a "Facts & Myths" page that contains statistics, culled from institutions such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization, about the impact of sanctions on disease and malnutrition in Iraq, particularly among children.

United Nations' Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP)
Find out more about the United Nations' Oil-for-Food program, authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 986, which Iraq accepted in 1996. The program allows Iraq to use roughly 70 percent of its oil revenues to pay for humanitarian needs such as food and medicine, while also requiring Iraq to set aside a portion of the revenues for compensation to the United Nations. According to the OIP, "Since the first food arrived in March 1997, foodstuffs worth over $10 billion and health supplies worth over $1.9 billion have been delivered to Iraq" under the program.

ARTICLES AND PUBLICATIONS

"A Hard Look at Iraq Sanctions," David Cortright
Much mention has been made of the impact of the sanctions and the suffering they have wrought upon the Iraqi people, particularly upon children, a million of whom have become casualties of the sanctions, according to Saddam Hussein. Even illustrious medical journals like The Lancet have carried scholarly reports of deaths of Iraqi children attributed to the sanctions whose methodologies have since come into dispute. This article, appearing in Alternet.org, casts the impact of sanctions into a balanced framework of analysis, noting the expansion of the Oil-for-Food program to allow unlimited production of oil and consequently more revenue available to Hussein to rebuild the country's health and services infrastructure. Yet, "Baghdad has continued to obstruct and undermine the aid program."

"U.N. Sanctions Rebel Resigns," BBC.com, Feb. 14, 2000
In February 2000, Hans von Sponeck followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Denis Halliday, and stepped down from his post as coordinator of U.N.-administered humanitarian aid to Iraq. In comments similar in tenor to Halliday's, Sponeck called the sanctions "a true human tragedy" and urged that they end.

"The Betrayal of Basra," Mother Jones magazine
Writer Chuck Sudetic traveled to Basra, one of Iraq's poorest cities, to witness firsthand the effects of the sanctions upon the lives of average Iraqi citizens. Poverty abounds in Basra, though Iraq has the world's second-largest oil reserves. According to Sudetic, "The devastating aspect of the sanctions is not that they restrict what Iraq can import; it is that they keep the country from accessing its cash." Although Iraq earned billions in revenue under the Oil-for-Food program in 2000, only about 33 percentwas spent on food and 2 percent on medical supplies.

World Health Organization's Iraq Newsletter
In January 2001, the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) published the first edition of a monthly newsletter highlighting the WHO's activities in Iraq. No subsequent editions seem to have been published, however. In this edition, the WHO describes its attempts to reduce the holds placed upon medical supplies and health-related goods imported under the Oil-for-Food program. All imports for Iraq have to be approved by the Security Council's Sanctions Committee.

REPORTS AND STUDIES

"Morbidity and Mortality Among Iraqi Children," Richard Garfield
In 1999, Richard Garfield of Columbia University authored a comparative analysis of previous studies looking at mortality and malnutrition figures in Iraq in the 1990s. Garfield arrives at a mortality figure that is far more conservative than the oft-quoted 1995 study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, which claimed casualties of Iraqi children upwards of half a million.

Following is an excerpt from the report. For the full report visit Fourth Freedom Forum:

Excess deaths (deaths in excess of the lowest annual rate [1990] during this time period) among Iraqi children per year since the Gulf war and sanctions*

Year

Baseline Death
Rate per
Thousand
Under Five-
Year-Olds

Period
Death
Rate per
Thousand
Under
Five-Year-
Olds

Excess
Deaths per
Thousand
Under
Five-Year-
Olds

Percent Rate
Increase
(excess
deaths
divided by
baseline
rates

Under Five-
Year-Olds
(in
Thousands

Est.
Excess
Deaths

1990

40

40

0

0

2,75

0

1990

40

46

6

15

2,756

1,102

1991

40

100

60

150

2,921

35,052

1992

39

70

31

79

3,096

19,195

1993

38

65.5

27.5

72

3,282

18,051

1994

37

73

36

97

3,479

25,049

1995

36

80.5

44.5

124

3,688

32,823

1996

35

87

52

149

3,909

40,654

1997

34

87

53

156

4,144

43,926

1998

33

87

54

164

4,393

11,861

TOTAL

 

 

 

227,713

*Citing information on maternal and child mortality rates collected by UNICEF, Professor Richard Garfield estimates that between 1991 and 2002, the number of excess deaths in Iraq among children under age 5 is 343,900 to 525,400.

Reprinted from Morbidity and Mortality Among Iraqi Children From 1990 to 1998: Assessing the Impact of Economic Sanctions, by Richard Garfield.
Courtesy of Fourth Freedom Forum

"Sanctions and Childhood Mortality in Iraq," The Lancet, Mohamed M. Ali and Iqbal H. Shah
This study, published in the May 2000 edition of the British medical journal The Lancet, is a demographic study of child mortality among tens of thousands of households in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. The authors found that the childhood mortality rate in the northern Kurd region fell from 1994 to 1999, while more than doubling in south-central Iraq during the same period.

"Iraq Sanctions: Humanitarian Implications and Options for the Future," Global Policy Forum
In August 2002, the Global Policy Forum and 11 nongovernment organizations published this report examining the U.N. sanctions against Iraq that were imposed under U.N. Resolution 687. The report, under New Policy Paper on Iraq Sanctions, delves into the controversy surrounding the Oil-for-Food program, which, it claims, "materially improved conditions in Iraq in contrast to the early days of the sanctions ..." albeit "... failed to resolve the humanitarian crisis, much less provide a long-term solution for Iraq."

Statements by Benan V. Sevan, Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Programme
On September 25, 2002, Benan V. Sevan briefed the U.N. Security Council about the status of the Oil-for-Food program. Read the text of his briefing to the Security Council and how the reduction in Iraqi oil exports, from 2 million barrels per day in 2000 to under 1 million barrels per day recently, has resulted in "a dire funding shortfall" for the disbursement of humanitarian aid to Iraq. The Hussein regime is criticized for deliberately suspending oil exports and failing to comply with U.N. recommendations for the equitable allocation of oil revenue funds to various humanitarian sectors.

UNICEF Surveys
Between February and May of 1999, UNICEF carried out the first surveys since 1991 of child and maternal mortality in Iraq. The surveys included the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. They were conducted with the assistance of both the Iraqi government and Kurdish authorities. According to the surveys, the mortality rate of children under 5 in the southern and central parts of Iraq has doubled since the imposition of sanctions.

"Assessment of the Food and Nutrition Situation: Iraq," United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization
This September 2000 report found stark regional differences in child malnutrition rates between northern, central and southernIraq. The U.N. Oil-for-Food program has, however, offset the effects of drought and the diminished agricultural production by improving food supply, with cereal imports expected to rise in 2000 and 2001 to presanctions levels. While the impact of the Oil-for-Food program has been the most positive in northern Iraq, the report calls for improvements in the implementation of the program to ensure a swifter and wider distribution of humanitarian relief.

"Oil for Food: Food Basket Adequacy Assessment Survey," World Food Programme
This report was published in November 2001. It features the results of a survey of 2,700 households in northern Iraq to assess how well the Oil-for-Food program's food rations meet the needs of the population. The report finds that while satisfaction with the ration system is "high" in northern Iraq, the rations under the program are "not sufficient" to fully meet the nutritional needs of the population.

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Written and compiled by Sheraz Sadiq and Sharon Tiller.