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Iraq says sanctions killed 10,000 in March

Iraq said yesterday nearly 10,000 people, most of them children...

Iraq said yesterday nearly 10,000 people, most of them children, died in March because of diseases it blamed on a decade of UN sanctions. The Health Ministry said 6,638 children under the age of five had died of diarrhoea, pneumonia and respiratory and malnutrition-related diseases as opposed to 362 deaths in the same period in 1989, a year before the embargo was imposed.

The official Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted the ministry as saying 3,099 adults had died in March of heart problems, cancers, diabetes and kidney and liver diseases compared with 406 deaths caused by those diseases in the same period in 1989.

INA said the figures brought to 1,481,162 the number of people who have died since the United Nations imposed sanctions in August 1990. The embargo, imposed as punishment for Baghdad's invasion of Kuwait, has ruined Iraq's infrastructure and caused living standards to fall.

The oil-for-food humanitarian programme allows Iraq to purchase supplies from its oil revenues to ease the impact of sanctions on its 23 million people. The United Nations has offered to remove some restrictions on imports of civilian goods provided that Iraq allows inspectors to return after a two-year absence.

But Iraq has repeatedly refused. It wants the sanctions lifted, arguing it has fulfilled its obligations under Security Council resolutions to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction.

gulf-news.com