Letter: End Iraq's agony

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The Independent Culture
Sir: You state that "sanctions do not stop [Saddam Hussein] buying food and medical supplies for his people" (leading article, 18 December). This is a line we have heard ad nauseam from Tony Blair and Robin Cook. It is a complete lie.

Whilst technically food and medicines are not subject to sanctions (although many requests for medical supplies have been vetoed by the UN Sanctions Committee), the inadequacy of the oil-for-food deal means that Iraq has no money to buy these items. Of the supposed $10bn a year available through the deal for humanitarian relief, over 30 per cent is diverted by the UN to non-humanitarian uses. Beyond this, the fall in oil prices coupled with the lack of spare parts for the oil industry means that the projected oil revenue is actually around $4.4bn - less than half what our government claims, and nowhere near what is needed.

Having been to Iraq recently, I can testify that children are starving, people are drinking water contaminated with sewage, and that the sanctions regime has reduced a healthy, well-fed nation to ruins.

Sanctions are a weapon just as devastating as bombs. Both are illegal and immoral.

ANDREA NEEDHAM

London, E2

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