DATE=10/20/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=UNICEF / IRAQ (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-255274 BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, says there has been a sharp deterioration in the health of children in Iraq since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the agency is urging speedier delivery of nutritional and health supplies to Iraq. TEXT: The executive director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, calls her visit to Iraq a sobering experience. /// Opt /// Her recent four-day visit was the first she has made to the country since assuming her post as head of UNICEF four-and-one-half years ago. /// End Opt /// Ms. Bellamy says what she saw during her visit is clearly cause for concern. /// BELLAMY ACT /// I don't think a whole generation has been wiped out. But, we are concerned about the children of Iraq today. Clearly, the conditions for children in Iraq have deteriorated over the past decade. There is no question from a health and education perspective. /// END ACT /// A recent UNICEF survey shows a dramatic increase in infant and child deaths. The survey reveals that in the heavily populated southern and central parts of the country, children under five are dying at more than twice the rate they were before the Gulf War. The survey notes the situation in the autonomous northern region of Iraq is slightly better. Ms. Bellamy says throughout the 1980's, Iraq had been making good progress in reducing child deaths. Had that progress continued throughout this decade, she says there would have been half-a-million fewer deaths of children under five in the country. The UNICEF chief says there is no one reason to explain the decline. She says it is a combination of many things. /// BELLAMY ACT /// It's a combination of a country that's been in two wars over the last 10, 15 years. A combination of (United Nations) sanctions on the one-hand. But, the failure of the government of Iraq itself to intervene to do more for its children. So, I believe there is responsibility on behalf of both the government of Iraq and the international community to try and act in ways to improve the health conditions, the health and education conditions of children in Iraq. /// END ACT /// Ms. Bellamy notes there has been a dramatic increase in bottle-feeding of infants in Iraq. This, she says, has led to higher levels of malnutrition and child mortality. She urges the government of Iraq to remove infant formula from the rations and replace them with additional food for pregnant and lactating women. Under the United Nations oil-for-food program, Iraq can buy humanitarian supplies. Ms. Bellamy says the purchase and distribution of high protein food, therapeutic milk and other essential goods for children should be speeded up. (Signed) NEB/LS/GE/JP 20-Oct-1999 09:47 AM EDT (20-Oct-1999 1347 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .