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'Oil for food' improving life in Iraq

'Oil for food' improving life in Iraq

The Iraqi regime is holding up $2.3bn dollars worth of humanitarian supplies, according to figures provided to the UN Security Council. The figures give lie to Saddam Hussein's propaganda that sanctions are to blame for Iraqi suffering, said Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

It equates to almost a whole year's supply of food to Iraq under the United Nations' 'oil for food' programme, which allows the Iraqi regime to sell oil to meet the humanitarian needs of its people. It is due for renewal this week.


These latest figures give the lie to Saddam Hussein's propaganda, said Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

"While he claims that sanctions are to blame for Iraqi suffering, his own regime is denying the Iraqi people access to medicines and other humanitarian relief. Those who defend Saddam should see his regime for what it is - a dictatorship which cares nothing for the Iraqi people. It is time to kill the lie that the West is responsible for their suffering."

Mr Straw said that the new sanctions system adopted in May is improving the situation, despite the regime's obstruction. The UN processed more than 4,000 contracts for humanitarian exports to Iraq in the last six months. Only 11 were rejected as the UN feared Iraq would use the requested goods for military purposes.

"While Saddam's propaganda machine bombards the international media with stories of spiralling death rates and worsening drug shortages, the truth is that we are doing what we can to help the Iraqi people, with little co-operation from the regime," said Mr Straw.

Despite obstruction, the signs are that life is getting better in Iraq because of 'oil for food'. Recent UN figures show that devastating conditions like polio, diphtheria and diarrhoea in children are now less common than they were when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Acute malnutrition rates in children under five are half the levels recorded when the UN programme first began in 1996. And in northern Iraq, where the UN administers the programme directly, child mortality rates are lower than before sanctions were imposed.

ENDS

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