Letter: Sanctions hit Iraqis but help Saddam

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Sir: The Iraqi people face a situation that is close to starvation. Whoever is responsible, Saddam Hussein or the United Nations (letters, 20, 25 January), we cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening to millions of innocent people. We argue against the continuation of sanctions for the following reasons.

Sanctions, which are by definition imposed to create hardship, cannot be implemented in a manner which spares the vulnerable. It is against the spirit and letter of article 38 of the convention on the Rights of the Child (UN, 1989).

Sanctions have resulted in a crime explosion which the government is trying to control by decreeing new barbaric punishments.

The sale of a limited amount of oil to pay for food and medicine imports under Security Council resolution 986 will result in only very limited benefits to the ordinary Iraqi. Although this amount would certainly help the needy, implementation of this resolution would result only in prolongation of sanctions, with most of the population still in poverty and most families receiving less than the minimum daily food requirements. At the moment the government food ration provides two-thirds of energy needs. The implementation of resolution 986 will not significantly improve this situation.

Sanctions have weakened Iraqis' will for change and their ability to rise up to overthrow the dictatorship. The argument for lifting sanctions is overwhelming on both a simple humanitarian level and a political one. It is the Iraqi people, after all, who will decide Saddam's fate.

Evidence indicates that a democratic Iraq is not on the West's agenda; a weakened and unthreatening Iraq is.

Dr MOHAMED AL-RUBEAI

Iraqi Victims of War Appeal

London W6

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