News Release

Afghanistan and Iraq


Senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, for the last three weeks Bouckaert has been interviewing five to ten Afghan refugees in Quetta and Peshawar daily. He said today: “We have seen an increase in the impact of the bombing campaign on the civilian population. There’s a broader range of targets being hit — the International Committee of the Red Cross has been hit twice in Kabul and other aid organizations have also been affected. It’s clearly more than just radar stations and airfields. I don’t think that the U.S. is targeting civilians, but some serious targeting errors are happening. A lot of the bombing is taking place in the cities and so people are fleeing to the rural areas. That will deplete the limited food supplies there and increase the likelihood of famine.” Human Rights Watch has just documented civilian deaths in two Afghan villages caused by U.S. weaponry.
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Former UN Assistant Secretary General, von Sponeck headed the UN “oil-for-food” program until he resigned last year in protest over the continued sanctions on Iraq. On a speaking tour in North America until November 11, von Sponeck said today: “There’s no evidence linking Iraq to the anthrax outbreak though some are arguing that it is a likely suspect without offering evidence. Following this path will only intensify the prospects of a silent suffering which has gone on for 11 years. Iraq has polluted water, lack of medicine and malnutrition, all due to the sanctions. The UN sanctions committee currently has ‘holds’ preventing delivery of $4 billion of humanitarian supplies. It’s clear that in the case of Afghanistan, the so-called collateral damage that the international community was told would not happen is now occurring.”
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Professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts and team leader for several Food and Nutrition Missions to Iraq for the UN agency Food and Agricultural Organization, Pellett said today: “In both Afghanistan and Iraq, we are seeing widespread malnutrition, especially of young children. Both have external causes though there has been a drought throughout the region for several years. In Iraq the ‘oil-for-food’ program is providing 2,200 calories per day, but child malnutrition is mainly caused by the dilapidation in the water and sanitation systems. Afghanistan is clearly much more of an emergency situation and the required food aid, which even previously was barely coping, is now massively disrupted by both the air strikes and large population movements. Significant distribution of food will only be possible when agreed pauses are made in the air campaign.”
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Coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness, a group which has openly violated the economic sanctions against Iraq, Kelly said today: “In the past, U.S. officials presented a simplistic view of foreign policy — everything that went wrong in Iraq was blamed on Saddam Hussein. Now we’re seeing the same thing for Afghanistan. The Pentagon has been bombing Iraq continuously and that has been ignored; now we bomb Afghanistan with cluster bombs. Aid agencies warn us that millions of people in Afghanistan face starvation. People in other parts of the world will be watching their plight. There is no clear indication that the military campaign against Afghanistan is going to dislodge the Taliban or the Al-Queda network. If anything, it may strengthen the existing regime the way a decade of economic sanctions on Iraq have strengthened Hussein’s government.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167