UN Says Sanctions Have Killed 500,000 Iraqi Children
- BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A senior U.N. official said Friday about half a
million children under the age of 5 have died in Iraq since the imposition
of U.N. sanctions 10 years ago.
- Anupama Rao Singh, country director for the U.N. Children's Fund
(UNICEF), made the estimate in an interview with Reuters.
- ``In absolute terms we estimate that perhaps about half a million
children under 5 years of age have died, who ordinarily would not have died
had the decline in mortality that was prevalent over the 70s and the 80s
continued through the 90s,'' she said.
- A UNICEF survey published in August showed the mortality rate among
Iraqi children under 5 had more than doubled in the government-controlled
south and center of Iraq during the sanctions.
- Baghdad said the UNICEF survey proved that the sanctions were killing
thousands of children every month and called for an immediate end to the
- Rao Sigh blamed malnutrition for the high mortality rate among children.
- ``Nutrition was not a public health problem in Iraq in the 80s. It
emerged as a major problem in the 90s and it increased steadily till about
1996,'' Singh said.
- She said since the start of the U.N. oil-for-food program, malnutrition
rates among children had stabilized, but death rates remained extremely
- ``One in four children below 5 suffers from some form of malnutrition or
other and most of them are chronically malnourished,'' Rao Singh said.
- Sanctions were imposed on Iraq as punishment for its 1990 invasion of
Kuwait, although the United Nations has allowed Iraq to sell oil to buy
food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies.
- Rao Singh said the sanctions also have affected the quality of
education, with many children forced to leave schools to hustle a living on
- ``There has been a drop in enrollment, an increase in drop- outs ...
children working, children in the street -- all of which, we believe, is
going to affect the quality of human resources that Iraq will have in the
future,'' she said.
- According to Rao Singh, the sanctions have caused massive impoverishment
except for a small proportion of the elite. ``The majority of middle class
people in Iraq, for instance, now find themselves having to do all sorts of
mean and insecure jobs to survive,'' she said.