Iraq And East Timor
Iraq Sanctions Medical Alert Group (ISMAG) press release for immediate release Wellington. 8 September 1999
New Zealand alleviating one humanitarian disaster and contributing to another: NZ doctors welcome posting of Te Kaha to East Timor. But concerns about planned posting to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq to still go ahead
The Iraq Sanctions Medical Alert Group (ISMAG), a group of Wellington-based doctors, has welcomed the decision announced today that the frigate HMNZS Te Kaha has been ordered to the Darwin/East Timor area to be available to assist the Australian Navy in possible humanitarian relief or evacuations in East Timor.
An ISMAG spokesman, Dr. Marten Hutt, said that "As doctors, we welcome the fact that the NZ government is responding to the pleas of United Nations workers in alleviating an undoubted humanitaraian disaster in East Timor. However, there is a bitter irony. The NZ government made it very clear today that the planned involvement of Te Kaha in the Multinational Interception Force (MIF) enforcing sanctions against Iraq will still go ahead in early October and into November".
"The UN has confirmed through its humanitarian agencies that these sanctions will kill innocent women and children. UNICEF estimates 4,500 Iraqi children will die in Iraq unnnecessarily as a result of the sanctions. New Zealand may well save lives in East Timor, but we will also undoubtedly contribute to loss of life in the Gulf next month".
"New Zealand has finally shown moral and policy initiative on East Timor. We should show the same fresh thinking with regard to Iraq, where sanctions have proved to be cowardly, ineffective and immoral. East Timores and Iraqi children deserve our equal concern".