Tracking Number:  192540

Title:  "Iraqi Regime Hinders Relief Effort, US Official Says." The current shortage of food, medicine and other relief supplies in Iraq is more acute because of the Iraqi government's manipulation of the distribution system. (910801)

Translated Title:  L-Irak gene la distribution des secours.; Regimen Iraqui obstaculiza esfuerzo socorro, afirma funcionario EU. (910801)
Date:  19910801


08/01/91 HIRAQI REGIME HINDERS RELIEF EFFORT, U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS SH(Manipulation of distribution system cited) (610) BYBy Bruce Carey BIUSIA Congressional Correspondent

TWashington -- Although chronic hunger existed in Iraq before its troops invaded Kuwait a year ago, the current shortage of food, medicine and other relief supplies is even more acute because of the Iraqi government's "manipulation of the distribution system," a top U.S. State Department official says.

Melinda Kimble, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, told a congressional panel August 1 that the Baghdad government is manipulating relief efforts for its own purposes at the expense of suffering Iraqi civilians.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is using his own people as pawns, trying to force the world community "to ease the pressure" against his regime -- pressure designed to exact a full accounting of Iraq's nuclear, biological, chemical and strategic weapons programs, she told the House of Representatives Select Committee on Hunger.

"We have to find a way to pressure him to allow us to achieve what he is unwilling to do," she declared -- abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions and permit adequate humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people.

As such, Kimble maintained, "merely relaxing sanctions so the Iraqi regime can purchase food, medicine and other essentials with (money acquired from) oil sales will do nothing to insure that supplies will actually reach the neediest and most vulnerable^20segments of the Iraqi population.

"We must devise a mechanism for distribution that includes strict controls and close monitoring," Kimble told the committee. "Without controls, there is no way to assure Saddam Hussein does not use supplies only to strengthen his own position instead of providing critical relief for the entire population."

But the United States and its allies are not waiting for such controls to be put into place. They continue to send help, hoping it will reach the neediest Iraqi people, she said. About $442 million in relief supplies have been sent by the United States since the start of 1991, of which $102 million has been channeled through international relief organizations, the State Department official said.

Since April of this year, she told the panel, about a million short tons of supplies have been approved for shipment to Iraq by the United Nations Sanctions Committee that is responsible for keeping arms out of the country. Kimble noted that Jordanian officials have reported that 22,233 trucks have passed through their country to Iraq, carrying about 695,000 short tons of supplies.

But she warned that relief efforts must continue because "supplies will start running short during the fall and winter months."

Another expert witness, Lawrence Pezzullo, executive director of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), told the committee that "the amount of food entering Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations and international agencies such as CRS falls well short of the level of imports prior to the embargo, and does not come close to the amount of imports needed to maintain a disaster ration."

He warned that a U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization report issued July 18 predicted "mass starvation" in Iraq unless relief efforts are stepped up.

Bishop James Griffin of the U.S. Catholic Conference told the congressional panel bluntly that the embargo is a direct cause of civilian suffering in Iraq.

Although the sanctions were "morally achieve legitimate U.N. objectives," he said, "first-hand reports...provide convincing evidence that...the economic embargo is directly and dramatically harming Iraqi ways not originally foreseen.

"The embargo, as now applied, unduly risks violating fundamental moral norms and prolonging human suffering," he said. NNNN

File Identification:  08/01/91, PO-406; 08/01/91, EP-429; 08/01/91, EU-415; 08/02/91, AE-506; 08/02/91, AR-504; 08/02/91, AS-508; 08/05/91, AF-103
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  French; Spanish
Thematic Codes:  1NE; 6RE
Target Areas:  EA; EU; AF; AR
PDQ Text Link:  192540; 192633; 192874