Letter: Blame Saddam for Iraqi hunger

Share
ROBERT FISK's article about incidents in the No Fly Zones ("Exposed: Britain and America's merciless secret blitz", 21 February) and George Alagiah's article about sanctions ("Starvation: the West's weapon of mass destruction" 28 February) give a misleading impression about the situation in Iraq.

Our aircraft are performing a vital humanitarian task in the No Fly Zones. The zones were set up after the Gulf War in response to a situation of overwhelming humanitarian necessity, when thousands of Iraqis were fleeing brutal repression at the hands of the Iraqi regime. That same regime continues to persecute its own civilians, as Patrick Cockburn's article ("Baghdad riots over killing of Ayatollah", 21 February) makes clear.

Since last December Iraqi aircraft have systematically violated the zones on more than 100 occasions. Iraqi air defence systems have shot at and threatened our pilots. We have always made it clear that we will take robust and appropriate defensive measures should our forces be threatened. We have no hidden agenda. When Iraq stops violating the zones, we will stop responding. It is as simple as that.

Fisk and Alagiah also query UN sanctions. Food and medicine imports have never been prohibited under sanctions. But the Iraqi regime has consistently refused to take advantage of this. It prefers to allow its people to starve in a cynical attempt to get sanctions lifted without complying with its obligations to the UN, in particular on weapons of mass destruction.

The report last week by the UN Secretary-General on the implementation of the "oil for food" programme makes interesting reading. The contrast between the programme in the north, where there are few, if any, shortages of food and essential drugs, and the situation in the centre and south is stark. The difference is that the UN implements the programme in the north. Elsewhere, the Iraqi government is responsible but persistently obstructs the programme. As just one example of Iraqi obstruction, the UN report points out that only 15 per cent of medical equipment has been distributed, of which only 2 to 3 per cent has been installed. These facts, sadly, speak for themselves.

The UK, unlike Saddam, is concerned for the Iraqi people. The oil-for- food programme was a UK initiative and we have consistently taken the lead in the UN in refining and improving it. We are putting forward new ideas to the UN panel which is considering ways of improving the humanitarian situation. We will continue to work both for improvements in the humanitarian programme, and for additional humanitarian assistance. But we also call upon the Iraqi government to comply with its obligations to the international community and to its own people.

DEREK FATCHETT

Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office London SW1

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
More From
DEREK FATCHETT
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Software Developer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Junior Software Deve...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Store Sales Executive

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Sales Executive ...

Recruitment Genius: Night Porters - Seasonal Placement

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Night Porters are required to join a family-ow...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Yorkshire Terrier waits to be judged during the Toy and Utility day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham  

There are no winners at Crufts. Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a 'beauty' pageant

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Daily catch-up: how come Ed Miliband’s tuition fee ‘cut’ is so popular, then?

John Rentoul
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn