Thousands of Iraqi children will be killed, says report
The Irish Examiner 10 Feb 2003
By Carl O'Brien, Political CorrespondentTHOUSANDS of Iraqi children are likely to die if there is a Gulf War, according to an unpublished report. The study says the situation could be far worse than either the 1991 Gulf War or the Afghan conflict, because sanctions mean many of Iraq's 13 million children are impoverished and dependent upon state rationing.
The in-depth report, carried out by an international study team last month, says war would seriously disrupt food supplies and lead to famine in some regions of the country.
In a chilling prediction of the effects of war, the study said: water levels are less than half the normal levels following a devastating drought and a breakdown in the supply system would be catastrophic for the civilian population; hospitals have less than three to four weeks of medical supplies and, in the event of a humanitarian emergency, clinics would find it difficult to provide even the most basic medical care to patients; in a worst-case scenario, war would result in around 1.4 million refugees. As many as 900,000 would seek to cross borders, while another 500,000 would be trapped within the country; due to the fragility of the food supply system, an outbreak of war would put up to 10 million people immediately at risk up to 50,000 civilians would be killed if there is a ground assault, while anything up to 200,000 civilians would be wounded.
The independent report was carried out by an international team of experts in January and was funded by humanitarian groups in Canada, the US and Norway. It was led by the internationally renowned Dr Eric Hoskins and involved 50 visits to households and hospitals, without the accompaniment of Iraqi officials.
The report emphasises that despite signing up to international treaties such as the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the international community has often ignored the well-being of children.
Labour foreign affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins said that these treaty obligations must be respected: "The structure of human rights and international law came about after World War II, after the nadir of Auschwitz and Dachau. To set all that aside and go back to war as a strategy would be an immense reversal."
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