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Bridge to Baghdad Exhibition To Raise Iraq Funds

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Bridge to Baghdad
Art Exhibition in the Michael Fowler Centre

Twenty five well-known Wellington region's artists are taking part and will be giving part of the proceeds from sales of their works to the Quaker "Medical Supplies for Iraqi Hospitals" project.

The Hon Matt Robson will give an opening address at 6.30 p.m. on Monday Nov. 26.

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Background Notes:

As required by law, NZ government approval has been given for the money from this appeal to go to Iraq through two NGOs, Bridge to Baghdad based in Rome, and LIFE in the US, both of whom have their own governments' and United Nations approval to carry out their work.

In Iraq there has been an explosive rise in the incidence of endemic infections, such as cholera, typhoid and malaria, and major increases in measles, polio and tetanus.

Doctors in Baghdad and Basra speak of their sense of helplessness in being unable to save the lives of more than 2% of the children in their care.

In January 1991, in addition to expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait, Coalition forces attacked Iraq. Aircraft and missiles destroyed life and infrastructure in Iraq over a period of six weeks.

The attacks killed tens of thousands of people, medicines and medical supplies were soon exhausted. Sewage systems, water-treatment works, electrical supply, agriculture; all were ruined. Even hospitals and schools were hit.

Since then, the Security Council has imposed a regime of sanctions which has ensured that the suffering and devastation continue.

UNICEF reports that, "due to sanctions 4,500 children under the age of 5 are dying each month from hunger and disease. Many are living on the very margin of survival." Due to the 1991 destruction of water- treatment plants and shortages of repair facilities because of sanctions, water-born diseases cannot be controlled.

The present availability of cancer treatment and pain-relief drugs in Iraqi hospitals is very poor and in places nearly non-existent. Basics like oxygen and anaesthetics are in many places unavailable.

Often, it is items put on hold by the New York-based Sanctions Committee that cause disastrous shortages.

Part of a letter from LIFE states:

“There is a great shortage in medical supplies. There are no bandages, and no needles. There is a huge shortage in blood bags. In fact there is a shortage in every kind of hospital equipment, medical supplies, and medicines."

The vast increase in various forms of cancers, particularly in the south, is widely attributed to the use of depleted uranium weaponry in the 1991 attacks.

Obviously the above is a very brief simplification of a complex issue. The main point perhaps is that while some of the responsibility for this situation must accrue to the Iraqi regime, the reports of various UN agencies, senior UN personnel, well-known human rights and aid agencies and NGOs have no hesitation in putting most of the blame on the destruction of the country's infrastructure, and the sanctions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Anthony Maturin,
4 Hoggard St.,
Vogeltown.
Ph. 389-4715.

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