Global Policy Forum

Iraq's Oil Deal Needs to Be Improved


By Sabah Jerges

June 28, 1998

Unless a new U.N. oil-for-food plan for Iraq is properly implemented it will do little to offset worsening malnutrition suffered by Iraqi women and children, a United Nations Children's Fund report said. ``The major problem facing Iraqi Children and Women is malnutrition and its serious consequences for health and development,'' said the UNICEF report published on Sunday.

Eight years of war with Iran, the Gulf War and the imposition of economic sanctions has seriously affected the socio-economic conditions of the country and its most vulnerable groups, women and children, the report added. The incidence of births of under-weight children jumped from 9.2 percent in 1991 to 22.8 percent in March of this year, the report showed. The infant mortality rate nearly doubled between 1990 and 1994, while the number of mothers dying while giving birth rose from 117 to 310 per 100,000 between 1990 and 1996.

Last year UNICEF conducted a survey according to which over one million Iraqi children under five are suffering from malnutrition. According to Iraq's Health Ministry figures some 57,000 Iraqi children under the age of five die every year. Iraq is under strict economic sanctions for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Food and medicine is exempt from the embargo and since 1996 Iraq has been allowed to sell limited amounts of oil to buy humanitarian goods under U.N. supervision. Under the latest six-month phase of the oil-for-food deal Iraq is slated to spend over $3 billion on food, medicines and infrastructure projects including electricity generation and water sanitation.

While Iraq's oil exports have been going smoothly since the implementation of the pact in December 1996, food and medical supplies have not been arriving in the same manner. Baghdad has often put the blame on the United States and Britain, saying their representatives at the U.N. sanctions committee are blocking contracts under the deal.

More Information on Iraq Sanctions


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