Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq
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On August 2nd 1990 the Iraqi army invaded its southern neighbour, Kuwait. Four days later the United Nations responded by imposing a complete trade embargo on Iraq. Though this was started under George H.W. Bush, it was continued for the entire Clinton administration.

In the ten years since Iraq has continued to be the subject of sanctions that affect almost every aspect of life for the average woman, man and child.

With imports of food and medicine severely restricted, malnutrition and disease is now endemic in what was once one of the healthiest countries in the world.

A 1999 Unicef report calculated that more than half a million children had died as a direct result of sanctions. On average 200 hundred Iraqi children are dying every day.

In September 1998, Denis Halliday head of the UN humanitarian programme in Iraq resigned claiming he could no longer administer 'an immoral and illegal' policy. His successor, Hans von Sponeck also later resigned, along with the head of the World Food Program.

Meanwhile U.S. and UK politicians insist that the sanctions regime is necessary to contain the threat of Saddam Hussein. When asked on U.S. television whether the death of 500,000 Iraqi children as a result of sanctions was justified Madelaine Albright replied "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

Pilger has brought back disturbing evidence that the "holds" on humanitarian supplies have paralyzed the country and devastated millions of people, many dying from curable diseases because life saving drugs are only available intermittently. He also finds that the breakdown of the clean water system and health facilities are having a tragic effect on young children, contributing to an alarming rise in their mortality rate.

Pilger also exposes the suffering caused to the civilian population by the illegal bombing campaign being conducted by U.S. and Britain in the "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq.

We are told that the purpose of sanctions is to discourage a government by punishing them. But in reality, governmental leaders will always be able to get what they want. Saddam Hussein had a collection of 50 luxury and exotic cars when the U.S. invaded. The real motive behind sanctions is to pressure a population into desperation until they decide to revolt against their leader. But how effective is this? And who is it really hurting, Saddam Hussein or innocent children?

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