As the Bush administration continues to "pour
over" the nearly 12,000 page declaration on non-conventional weapons
submitted last weekend by the Iraqi government, another report central
to the "Iraq crisis" is being ignored by Washington. The United
Nations children's agency UNICEF has just released its annual report
The State of the World's Children.
The report says that since the imposition of US-led economic sanctions
on Iraq in 1990, the death rate for Iraqi children under the age of
5 has nearly tripled. It shows that Iraq's under-five mortality rate-the
best indicator of child welfare globally-was 133 per 1,000 live births
in 2001. Conversely, in 1990, before the Gulf War and the imposition
of sanctions, it was 50. The report also reveals the extent to which
the sanctions halted Iraq's impressive 2 decades of progress on child
welfare that saw under-five mortality slashed from 171 in 1960.
|Basra, Iraq 10/31/02 - Dr. Jawad Al-Ali,
cancer specialist at the Saddam Teaching Hospital in Basra,
Iraq, examines a cancer patient who is recovering from surgery
to remove part of a tumor he had developed on his torso. Dr.
Al-Ali says that the number of cancer patients he sees now has
increased by more than ten-fold since the 1990 Gulf War. He
says many of the types of cancer he sees suggest heavy metal
poisoning and there is widespread speculation that the depleted
uranium used in U.S. bombs dropped in the area are to blame.
Photo by Thorne Anderson.
UNICEF says that 109,000 children under the age of five died in Iraq
in 2001. Iraq ranks dead last in the world on progress of under-five
mortality. So startling is the statistic that it appears at first
glance to be an error. Most countries show a 30, 40, 60% reduction
in these death rates since 1990. Iraq's reduction is -166% (that's
negative 166%) since the beginning of the sanctions.
The report says that Iraq's infant mortality rate is 107 per 1,000
births, putting it on par with most sub-Saharran African countries.
|Basra, Iraq 10/31/02 - Two cancer patients
wait for examinations with Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, cancer specialist
at the Saddam Teaching Hospital in Basra, Iraq. Dr. Al-Ali says
that the number of cancer patients he sees now has increased
by more than ten-fold since the 1990 Gulf War. He says many
of the types of cancer he sees suggest heavy metal poisoning
and there is widespread speculation that the depleted uranium
used in U.S. bombs dropped in the area are to blame. Photo by
The report was released by UNICEF on December 12, 2002. As of this
writing, the Bush administration has not publicly assigned any commission
or government agency to comb through its pages and discover the root
causes of these horrifying statistics.
Click here to view the full report, The
State of the World's Children 2003
Click here to download the report in PDF
format (3 MB).
Scahill is an independent journalist, who reports for the nationally
syndicated Radio and TV show Democracy Now! He is currently based
in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and filmmaker Jacquie
Soohen are coordinating Iraqjournal.org,
the only website providing regular independent reporting from the
ground in Baghdad.