Sanctions against Iraq are having a devastating effect on civilians, with a lack of medical supplies killing children every day, members of a Nobel Prize-winning physicians group said.
Three officials of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War returned Saturday evening from an eight-day trip to the Middle East that included meetings with up to 75 Iraqi doctors and tours of Iraqi hospitals."All (the doctors) had a common story of the effect of the blockade in keeping medicines out," said William Monning, executive director of the Cambridge-based group, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
"This didn't even happen in Nazi Germany," Monning said after arriving at Logan International Airport.
The lack of essential medicines in Iraq affects newborn children, premature babies and the elderly most severely, Monning said.
The embargo has also resulted in an increase in the mortality rate of young children, he said. "About three to four are dying (in hospitals) each day," he said, attributing the deaths to the lack of medicine.
Monning said the United States and its allies are violating the United Nations sanctions in preventing medicine from entering Iraq.
"It's an absolute requirement of the sanctions. It says excepted from this embargo are medicines and other humanitarian aid," he said. "It contravenes all principles of the Geneva Convention."
Monning and two other IPPNW officials visited Amman, Jordan, and Cairo, Egypt, as well as Baghdad.
They were joined on their mission by Dr. Ulrich Gottstein of Germany, the group's vice president for Europe; Dr. Sergei Kolesnikov, president of the Eastern Siberian branch of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences; and Dr. Aurora Bilbau, with IPPNW's Spanish chapter.
Monning said that while President Bush has directed the American public's focus on Saddam Hussein, it is not the Iraqi president but civilians who would suffer in a war.