The director for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), Anupama Rao Singh, told Reuters news agency recently that about half a million children under the age of 5 have died in Iraq since the imposition of U.N. sanctions 10 years ago. "In absolute terms we estimate that perhaps about half a million children under 5 years of age have died, who ordinarily would not have died had the decline in mortality that was prevalent over the 70s and the 80s continued through the 90s," she said.
In the interview on July 21, Singh pointed out that malnutrition is the direct cause for the high mortality rate among children. "Nutrition was not a public health problem in Iraq in the 80s. It emerged as a major problem in the 90s and it increased steadily till about 1996," Singh said.
The economic sanctions against Iraq were imposed back in August 1990. In 10 years, the infrastructure of the country is collapsing at an alarming rate. 130 hospitals in Iraq are in desperate need of repair in order to provide an adequate standard of healthcare, and unemployment has reached almost 60% of the population.
These punitive sanctions which, in violation of the Geneva Convention and international law, target civilians and the infrastructure necessary for their survival, are part of U.S. imperialism's war against Iraq. The sanctions aim at preventing the rejuvenation of the country, terrorizing the Iraqi people, and keeping them under the thumb of U.S. imperialism.
By supporting the sanctions, U.S. imperialism is only deepening the contradiction between itself and the Arab peoples as well as all democratic-minded people. Everyday, more governments and people throughout the world are demanding that the sanctions be lifted.