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ARABS-UN - Feb. 16 - Congressmen Join Call To Lift Iraq Sanctions.

Democratic and Republican members of the US Congress join with Arab American groups to urge the UN and the Clinton Administration to lift punishing economic sanctions on Iraq. A parade of Congressmen, sided by Muslim and Arab activists on Capitol Hill, condemn the UN sanctions as a failed policy that had caused soaring infant mortality and killed hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqis while doing little to weaken Pres. Saddam Hussein's grip on power. Democratic Representative David Bonior of Michigan tells a news conference: "This embargo hasn't hurt Saddam Hussein or the pampered elite that supports him but has been devastating for millions of Iraqi people", adding: "Our message is simple. We're saying millions of children are suffering and we refuse to close our eyes to the slaughter of innocents". (Stringent international sanctions were imposed against Iraq more than 9 years ago after the Gulf War. Concerned about the impact on the civilian population, the UN in 1996 set up an oil-for-food programme designed to ensure that all Iraqi oil revenue is spent on humanitarian needs, but that programme has had mixed results at best. Since then criticism of the policy has grown and this week 2 senior UN officials resigned in protest.) On Feb. 13, Hans Von Sponeck, the German humanitarian co-ordinator in charge of the oil-for-food programme in Baghdad, quit after criticising the sanctions for unjustly punishing the Iraqi people and creating a human tragedy. 2 days later his compatriot Julia Burghardt, who headed the World Food Programme in Iraq, did the same. On Feb. 16, Russia, expresses its alarm over the resignations and declares that the UN should wake up to the humanitarian impact of the embargo on Iraq. (The UN itself estimates that more than a million Iraqis have died, directly or indirectly because of the economic sanctions. Among them, several thousand children are reported to die daily from malnutrition and lack of adequate medicines.) Representative Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, says: "What we have done is to put in place a policy that is not only counter-productive - it's more than that, it's immoral". (Pressure in Congress for a review of US support for the embargo against Iraq has intensified.) In late January, 70 members of Congress, led by Representative Tom Campbell of California, sent a letter to Clinton urging him to de-link broad economic sanctions from the military embargo in place against Baghdad. The letter said: "The time has come to turn a new page in our dealings with Iraq", adding: "While we have no illusions about the brutality of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq should be allowed to restore their economic system".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Feb 19, 2000
Previous Article:ARABS-ISRAEL - Feb. 18 - Thousands Of Lebanese Protest US Support Of Attacks.
Next Article:IRAN - Feb. 14 - US Charges Of Religious Persecution Rejected.

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