Tuesday 14 January 2003

UN report details humanitarian disaster expected from war vs. Iraq

A United Nations report marked “Strictly Confidential” and dated December 10, 2002, spells out in harrowing detail the likely humanitarian consequences of US-led war against Iraq.

Compiled by UN planners, the report makes clear that unlike the attack on Iraq in 1991, which it describes as a “relatively short, aerial bombardment of infrastructure, towns and cities”, the western powers are now planning “potentially a large scale and protracted ground offensive, supported by aerial and conventional bombardment.” [para 1]

Consequently, the potential devastation will be far greater than in 1991, it reports. Whereas a majority of the population of 26.5 million at that time had family members in work and access to cash and material assets, this is no longer the case.

Neither does the report consider it valid to make a comparison with the result of the recent war in Afghanistan where the population is predominantly rural and used to being “more self-reliant”. In Iraq the people are largely urbanised and under the sanctions regime imposed after 1991 have “become even more reliant on the state to meet their basic needs” [para 3] with “some 60 percent of the population (16 million) highly dependent” [para 11] on the monthly “food basket” from the government.

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