The resignation of Hans von Sponeck as UN Humanitarian Coordinator of the Oil for Food programme in Iraq and Jutta Burghardt as head of the World Food Program in Iraq in protest of the economic sanctions and the UN Security Council Resolution 1284 should serve as wake-up calls for the international community to end the the sanctions which have been described as "infanticide masquerading as policy".
Calling on the international community to review sanctions against Baghdad to help alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people, Von Sponeck, who resigned in protest at the decade-old sanctions, said that the sanction regime of the kind that is implemented in Iraq is "simply no longer tolerable" and is also against human rights.
He said before the sanctions - which were imposed after the Iraqi invasion
of Kuwait in August 1990 - the infant mortality rate in Iraq
was 56 per 1,000, but today 131 children do not live to the fifth
year of their life out of 1,000.
Von Sponeck said the three-year-old U.N. oil-for-food programme which allows Baghdad to export crude oil to finance imports of humanitarian goods was "inadequate" and called for the entire sanctions approach to be reconsidered.
The UN sanctions in Iraq have become a humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions. According to UN estimates, more than one million Iraqis have died - most of them children - directly or indirectly because of the sanctions. Between 1991 and 1998, UNICEF estimates that half a million children died as a result of the economic sanctions.
As the sanctions are punishing the wrong target, the international community
must respond to Von Sponeck’s call for the de-linking of the disarmament
of Iraq from the discussion about the humanitarian programme.
The Malaysian Parliament should be in the forefront to get the international community to respond to the protest resignations of the two high-ranking UN relief officials in Iraq and for for an end to the economic sanctions which ignore the fundamental humanitarian needs and rights of 22 million people to basic health care, food and shelter.
Von Sponeck's predecessor, Denis Halliday of Ireland, resigned in 1998 as he did not want to be associated with the adverse impact of U.N. trade sanctions on ordinary Iraqis. Halliday said:
"The loss of life inflicted on ordinary Iraqis by the sanctions is incompatible with the United Nations Charter. The continuation of these sanctions in full knowledge of their deadly consequences constitutes genocide."
The Malaysian Parliament’s all-party motion should urge: