News Release

Denis Halliday, Former UN Official, in Iraq


Halliday is a former head of the UN oil-for-food program and a former UN Assistant Secretary General. Over the last few days he has met with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, and Trade Minister Mohammad Saleh, as well as the heads of UNICEF and UNDP in Iraq, two Iraqi families and numerous shopkeepers he knew from his earlier time in Baghdad. He said today: “The majority of Iraqis are staying together with families at home, there’s little sign of a mass exodus as there was in 1991. The government has distributed three months of the oil-for-food program supplies. There’s concern the U.S. would bomb food facilities, as it did here in 1991 and in Afghanistan. The other major concern is water. The people who can afford it are hoarding bottled water. The government is drilling water wells. I can find no preventive arrangements for healthcare of young children after the expected collapse of electricity, water and sewage treatment as happened in 1991. No shots for cholera, typhoid, and other various waterborne diseases that will likely break out if the U.S. bombs electrical and water facilities as it did in 1991.”

Halliday added: “There are some 30 air raid shelters around Baghdad, but given the U.S. bombing of the Al-Amiriya shelter in 1991, people do not want to use them. Most Iraqi homes do not have basements; they will be in their homes and quite vulnerable…. There’s little awareness of the health effects of the U.S. potentially using depleted uranium in a city of five million…. There’s a desperation regarding the economic sanctions. Some Iraqis even hope that war will bring an end to the sanctions; not that they want war, but they are desperate after 12 years of suffocating sanctions…. Iraqis do not expect serious assistance from Arab neighbors or from Europe; no one who has power will protect them. The majority of Iraqis don’t understand what they could possibly have done to deserve the military aggression of the United States. There’s a sense that if the American people really want to prevent the massacre of civilians, then they have to stand up and do so…. Regular people here do not believe that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The idea that Iraq is a threat to the U.S. is widely regarded as just laughable. They see three reasons for Bush’s militaristic stance: U.S. imperialistic ambition, control of Iraqi oil and support for Israeli expansion.”

Kelly is coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness, a group challenging the economic sanctions.

President of the humanitarian aid organization Conscience International and a longtime professor of Middle East and Islamic Studies, Jennings has worked extensively in Iraq.

Scahill has spent several months in Iraq over the last year. He broke the story of Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials in the 1980s.
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167