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UN Urged to Hold Meeting on Iraq's

Xinhua News Service
July 12, 2000

Iraqi National Assembly Speaker Saadoun Hamadi has sent a letter to United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan, calling for a meeting to discuss Iraq's humanitarian situation. The official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported Wednesday that in the letter, Hamadi said that all representatives of U.N. organizations in Iraq should be invited to attend the meeting.

Hamadi proposed that the meeting be held in New York, where the U.N. is headquartered, to enable the world to better understand the humanitarian situation of Iraq 10 years after stringent sanctions were imposed. "I am waiting for your positive answer," said Hamadi in the letter.

Annan has called on the U.N. Security Council to find consensus on the aim of the sanctions it imposed soon after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and to refine them to avoid human sufferings.

The U.N. is battling growing scepticisms on the effectiveness of sanctions amid its decade-long restrictions against Iraq that have been blamed for the country's humanitarian crisis. The boycott also remains one of the most controversial, with members of the Security Council deeply divided in their policy.

Iraq says as many as 1.3 million people have died of curable diseases as a direct result of the sanctions in what was called a humanitarian crisis in the country. The U.N. oil-for-food program, launched in December 1996, allows Iraq to export crude in return for U.N.-supervised imports of food, medicine and other humanitarian goods to help alleviate the crippling impacts of the sanctions.

However, the humanitarian program was impeded by the U.S. and Britain who tried hard to block contracts Iraq signed with foreign countries to import humanitarian supplies. Iraq has repeatedly accused the U.S. and British members on the U.N. Sanctions Committee of shelving a total of 1,989 contracts, worsening the humanitarian crisis in the country.

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