What ye don't see on US TV (Tunnel Vision)

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Posted by andreas from p3EE3C411.dip.t-dialin.net ( on Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 5:17AM :

What ye don't see on US TV (Tunnel Vision):

Source: Tarik Kafala,
“Analysis: Humanitarian Consequences of War”,
BBC News Online, 28 January 2003,

* At the bottom find the BBC story’s select data, culled from UN, “Likely
Humanitarian Scenarios”, 10 December 2003,
http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/war021210.html. In the on-line piece the
data appeared in a side-bar.

Key Quote: “It is astonishing to us how little the potential humanitarian
effects of war are discussed either in parliament or in the media - there
should be a full and open assessment of the likely costs followed by a
public debate about the implications of this assessment”. - Mike Rowson,
Director, Medact <http://www.medact.org/tbx/pages/section.cfm?index_id=2>


Many Iraqis will face starvation in the event of a US-led war in the
country, a United Nations official has warned.

A widely-leaked UN report on the humanitarian consequences of a war has
estimated that the conflict would create two million refugees.

In mid-January, the Turkish Red Crescent Society began preparations for the
large number of refugees expected to cross into Turkey - a 24,000-tent
refugee camp is planned.

These dire warnings reflect widespread concerns over the effects that any
US-led war could have on the Iraqi people.

They are based on previous experience and on studies of the current state of
health of Iraqis and how they are getting food.

Despite these warnings, the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, has admitted to
BBC News Online that its preparations are in the initial stages and “in
terms of scope they are not really on a large scale”.

During the 1991 Gulf War Turkey received 500,000 of the 1.8 million refugees
went on the move. Nearly a million crossed into Iran.

The overall death toll among Iraqi civilians 12 years ago is hotly disputed.
Estimates for civilian deaths as a direct result of the war range from
100,000 to 200,000.

In a sustained war this time around, the expectation among aid organisations
and UN agencies is that the casualty and refugee figures will be higher
because the aim of the war will be regime change.

All this assumes that non-conventional weapons or weapons of mass
destruction are not used.


The fear that large numbers of Iraqis will starve comes from the assessment
that the system of government food rations on which many Iraqis depend will
be severely disrupted.

More than 60% of Iraqis, 16 million people, are dependent on government
rations, the UN estimates.

Under the UN oil-for-food deal in place since 1996, Iraq has used oil sales
to cover around 70% of its food needs.

Mike Rowson, the director for British health charity Medact, told BBC News
Online that the Iraqi people as a whole are far less healthy than they were
before the 1991 Gulf War.
This means they will be more vulnerable to the illness and distress caused
by war and being forced on the move.


&#9600; The immediate injuries and deaths from a bombing campaign
&#9600; Civilian deaths and illness from the damage done to essential
infrastructure such as water and electricity supplies
&#9600; Health services in Iraq, already overstretched, can be expected to
be overwhelmed.

These conditions are likely to create, Mr Rowson says, widespread epidemic
disease and hunger.

In a report released in 2002, Medact tried to assess the most likely
scenario for a war in Iraq and then estimated the likely casualties.

“War is unpredictable, but planning must try to use evidence gained from
previous conflicts and comparable situations to make these kinds of
estimates,” Mr Rowson said.
“We know that the Iraqi population is much weaker than a decade ago, so the
death toll of up to 200,000 from the 1991 war could be higher; this
pessimistic scenario should be coupled with the fact that war could be even
more intense because its aim is regime change and Saddam Hussein may well
fight on to the bitter end.”

Depending on what kind of conflict it turns out to be and how long it lasts,
Medact estimates civilian deaths as a direct result of fighting and bombing
could range from 48,000 to over 260,000.

“It is astonishing to us how little the potential humanitarian effects of
war are discussed either in parliament or in the media - there should be a
full and open assessment of the likely costs followed by a public debate
about the implications of this assessment,” Mr Rowson told BBC News Online.


When asked what preparations the UK Government was making for the
humanitarian consequences of a war, the Department for International
Development was able to say only that the government was “planning for all

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, told BBC News Online that its
preparations were of a general nature and at an initial stage.

“The point is that we don’t know what the humanitarian consequences will be.
If there is some sort of military intervention, we have absolutely no idea
what is going to happen. Nonetheless we have to be ready in broad terms,”
UNHCR spokesman Chris Janovski said.

Being ready means buying tents, sheeting, blankets, and non-perishable foods
and medicines that are needed for any refugee crisis and stockpiling them in
the countries neighbouring Iraq.

Mr Janovski said: “We are making preparations, but in terms of scope they
are not really on a large scale. This is linked to the fact that we are out
of money. We have spent close to $19m from various emergency funds for basic
preparations and this is really it.

“The problem is that we are trying to prepare for something in Iraq while we
have real, existing crises on out plate in Ivory Coast and Afghanistan.

“These real, rather than hypothetical, operations are themselves out of



UN estimates
16 million or 60% of Iraqis dependent on government rations
Two million refugees expected (half inside Iraq)
500,000 people will need medical treatment in early stages of war
Two million children and one million pregnant or lactating women will need
immediate “therapeutic feeding”


-- andreas
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