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The Delegation to End all Sanctions against Iraq
28 November 2000
Toronto- On November 10th 2000, a delegation of 100 persons flew from Athens to Baghdad to protest the sanctions imposed by the UN since the Gulf war of 1991. This was the first flight of a National carrier from Western Europe (Olympic Airways), since the sanctions were imposed. It constituted a statement of solidarity with the peoples of Iraq by defying the embargo on civilian flights. It exposed the incredible suffering imposed on the people since the implementation of this unprecedented sanctions regime.
According to Alain Gresh, in the Le Monde Diplomatique of October 2000, the UN Sanctions Committee, controlled by the USA and the UK, enforces a series of punitive measures that are the worst the world has known since the Treaty of Versailles. These sanctions have caused harrowing results that are not relieved by the so-called 'oil for food program' controlled by the UN Compensation Commission.
During the bombing by the allied forces in the Gulf War, an estimated 800 tons of depleted uranium contained in ammunitions were used, causing cancer rates to increase five fold and childhood leukaemia in Iraq to be the highest rate in the world. The means to provide relief or cure are withheld through the sanction regime.
Prior to the sanctions, Iraq had one of the most satisfactory levels of quality of life for the region. One and a half million Iraqi civilians have died since 1991 as a direct result of the sanctions, and according to UNICEF reports substantiated by the Red Cross, 600,000 of the dead are children under 5 years of age. Maternal mortality rates have more than doubled during the period of the sanctions and 70% of Iraqi women suffer from anaemia. The number of malnourished children has increased over 300% since 1991.Unemployment and inflation have soared.
Margarita Papandreou, the head of the organising committee for the flight, stated that "an increasing number of women and men in the world are appalled by this dismal situation wilfully created by humans." The participants, coming from Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland, the USA, the UK, and Canada, are vehemently opposing the sanctions on Iraq by taking tangible actions and increasing the number of challenges to the embargo.
The President of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Bruna Nota, a member of the organising committee, said: "By this visit and the actions to follow, we demand on the basis of moral, legal and economic reasoning, that the USA and the UK, the two permanent members of the UN Security Council relentless in their opposition to the lifting of the sanctions, stop vetoing food, medicines and repair parts from entering Iraq. We further demand them to immediately cease the embargo on approved shipments, and remove all sanctions against Iraq."
Madeleine Gilchrist, member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace was also part of the delegation and organising committee.