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Letter: UN sanctions are starving Iraq

Sir: Eric Berman, Executive Director of UN Watch, is wrong to claim (letter, 25 January), regarding sanctions on Iraq, that UN Resolution 986 "permits Iraq to export $2bn of oil over 180 days on a renewable basis to pay for food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies ... "

The resolution specifies (in Paragraph 8) many uses, in addition to humanitarian purchases, for the realised revenues from oil sales. For example, revenues are to be channelled to the Compensation Fund, the UN inspection agents, and the UN Special Commission.

This means that, on most estimates, around $600m will be available every six months for humanitarian supplies. This amount should be set in the context of the 20 million Iraqi population that is currently being starved to death: on average, each Iraqi will receive $30 of food and medicine every six months.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), sanctions are currently causing the deaths of 4,000 children every month through disease and starvation. I would remind Eric Berman that Protocol 1, Article 54 of the Geneva Convention states: "Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited".


Stockport, Cheshire