Press Release

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Posted by Esperanza from ( on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 at 1:59AM :

Press Release
17 February 2003, 10:00 GMT - For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
- Roger Normand, CESR Executive Director, +1-718-237-9145 ext. 12,
- Sarah Zaidi, CESR Research Director, +1-718-237-9145 ext. 19,
CASI (in the UK):
- Glen Rangwala, 07880 665731,
- Jonathan Stevenson, 07818 651124,

Over 1 Million Iraqi Children Might Die in War - Secret UN Document
A newly-obtained confidential UN document predicts that 30 percent of children under 5 in Iraq, or 1.26 million, "would be at risk of death from malnutrition" in the event of a war. The draft document, "Integrated Humanitarian Contingency Plan for Iraq and Neighbouring Countries", was produced by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 7 January 2003. Its release comes as aid agencies and government representatives meet urgently in Geneva to discuss humanitarian operations in the event of war."

The document, available at, contains the following key assessments:

"In the event of a crisis, 30 percent of children under 5 would be at risk of death from malnutrition" [p. 3(5)]. With 4.2 million children under five in Iraq [p. 3(5)], this represents 1.26 million children under five.
"the collapse of essential services in Iraq ... could lead to a humanitarian emergency of proportions well beyond the capacity of UN agencies and other aid organizations" [p. 4(6)]
"all UN agencies have been facing severe funding constraints that are preventing them from reaching even minimum levels of preparedness" [p. 1(3)]
"the effects of over 12 years of sanctions, preceded by war, have considerably increased the vulnerability of the population". [p. 3(5)]
"WFP [World Food Programme] estimates that approximately 10 million people ... would be highly food insecure, displaced or directly affected by military action" [p. 11(13)]
"in the event of a crisis, only 39 percent of the population would be serviced [with water] on a rationed basis" [p. 12(14)]
"UNHCR estimates that up to 1.45 million refugees and asylum-seekers may seek to flee Iraq in the event of a military conflict" [p. 9(11)]
"Up to 900,000 people may be displaced in addition to the 900,000-1,100,000 existing IDPs [internally displaced persons]" [p. 10(12)]
[from tables on p. 12(14)]
5,210,000 are highly vulnerable children under five and pregnant and lactating women.
500,000 potential direct and indirect casualties (overall population).
3,020,000 at nutritional risk (overall population).
18,240,000 might need access to treated water.
8,710,000 may need sanitation facilities.
Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI) co-ordinator, Jonathan Stevenson, said:

"These UN estimates reveal that the people of Iraq are facing a humanitarian crisis of overwhelming severity. The $30m of emergency aid offered to handle this - little more than $1 per Iraqi - is wholly inadequate. Tony Blair talks of a moral case for war, yet once again the indications are that no serious responsibility is being taken for the impact of UK policies on Iraq civilians."

The OCHA document is one of three internal UN documents released jointly by the New York-based Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and CASI. The document was obtained by the CESR from UN personnel who believe that the potential humanitarian impact of war is a matter of global public concern that should be discussed fully and openly.

-- Esperanza
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