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From ab758@virgin.vip.vi Wed Jan 19 07:22:02 2000
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 00:02:50 -0600 (CST)
From: Mark Graffis <ab758@virgin.vip.vi>
Subject: Iraq blames U.S., Britain for environment disaster
Article: 86970
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
X-UIDL: 852c770a99f6c40b302d146497c4c2f8

Iraq blames U.S., Britain for environment disaster

Reuters, 18 January 2000

BAGHDAD - Iraq accused Western powers of inflicting a creeping health and environmental disaster on the country by blocking medical and humanitarian supplies.

The environment in Iraq is still in dire need of improvement because of lack of requirements, Health Minister Umeed Madhat Mubarak told reporters after opening a meeting on the environment.

What we need in Iraq are the spare parts to rehabilitate water supply and sewerage systems, he said.

Mubarak said an oil-for-food deal with the United Nations had done little to improve Iraq's environment. The oil deal allows Iraq to sell $5.26 billion worth of oil to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs for the Iraqi people.

Iraq welcomes the deal but says that, in practice, it does not function properly because of Western obstruction.

Mubarak accused U.S. and British representatives at the U.N. sanctions committee on Iraq of blocking contracts to purchase humanitarian needs. The American and British envoys are still creating problems in order not to approve contracts signed with the Iraqi side to supply needs.

Still the electrical power, the sewerage system and water supplies are not adequate despite more than three years since the imposition of the memorandum of understanding (with the U.N.), he said.

With its health services devastated by almost 10 years of sanctions imposed for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq says it cannot afford expensive drugs to treat its people let alone the huge cost of preventing diseases from areas described as the poorest and worst-hit by the sanctions.

The genocide (against the Iraqi people) which has been continuing for the last 10 years is still having impact and producing much more mortalities, Mubarak said.

Health Ministry statistics published two weeks ago said that more than 1.25 million Iraqis had died because of the embargo.

The United Nations Children's Fund said in a report in August last year that deaths among under fives had doubled over the past decade in central and southern areas controlled by the government.

Iraq blames sanctions while the United States says Baghdad is responsible for the sharp rise in deaths.

Several officials who spoke in the meeting, organised by the ministry to mark Iraq's environment day, blamed environmental disaster in Iraq, particularly in its southern provinces, on depleted uranium ammunition used by the Untied States and Britain in the 1991 Gulf War.

Iraqi officials say allied forces estimated they had used 300 tonnes of depleted uranium munitions against Iraqi forces.

According to a U.N. document based on Iraqi government figures published in 1998, cancer cases soared as much as six-fold in parts of southern Iraq after the 1990-91 Gulf crisis.