Iraq's children cling on for a grim life

Academics condemn the effect of sanctions on health and education
The sanctions on Iraq are severely damaging its education system and cultural heritage, according to academics and researchers, writes Kim Sengupta. Among the items on the UN blacklist are pencils, science books and computer software. And, while the sanctions are hindering the educational prospects of the young, archaeological treasures are being smuggled to collectors in the West.

Academics from Cambridge and Oxford have written to the Independent expressing concern about the effect of sanctions on civilians, which, they say, are "counter-productive and indefensible".

"Allowing the people of Iraq to suffer malnutrition and poor health is like refusing food and medicine to the passengers in a hijacked plane."

The Labour MP George Galloway, who has been campaigning against non- military sanctions, yesterday hosted a press conference by experts who have first-hand experience of Iraq to "counter government propaganda". Haris Gazdar, a London School of Economics researcher, said the average income of an Iraqi had fallen from around pounds 150 a month before the Gulf war to around pounds 3 a month now. The country, whose national income was comparable with that of South Korea and Brazil before the war, is now on a lower level than Bangladesh.

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