Sunday 16 February 2003

War spells disaster for Iraqis, UN warns

A US-led war against Iraq could trigger "a humanitarian emergency of exceptional scale and magnitude", according to confidential United Nations planning documents.

They warn that 30 per cent of Iraqi children under the age of five could die from malnutrition and that attacks on electricity and transportation would severely hamper UN efforts to help those affected.

"The collapse of services in Iraq could lead to a humanitarian emergency of proportions well beyond the capacity of UN and other aid organisations," say the documents. "The effects of over 12 years of sanctions, preceded by war, have considerably increased the vulnerability of the population," they state.

The documents have come to light through the Centre for Economic and Social Rights (CESR). Roger Normand of the CESR said staff in Iraq obtained them from UN experts who "believe the humanitarian impact of war is of global concern and should be discussed openly".

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