On January 17, 1991 the Gulf war began. After 43 days, approximately 140,000 tons of explosives had been dropped in Iraq, the equivalent of several Hiroshima atomic bombs. As a result, countless thousands died. In April 1991 the allied Forces and Iraq signed a cease-fire officially ending the Gulf war. Sanctions imposed on Iraq in August 1990 in the aftermath of its invasion of Kuwait were then in effect.

Every major facility in Iraq had been destroyed and the country’s infrastructure annihilated. Today, several tons of radioactive uranium bomb fragments are still scattered all over the country. The negative impact of the sanctions is still palpable today.


As American and Iraqi leaders argue about who is to blame for the result of the sanctions, the children of Iraq bear the brunt of the tragedy. Hospitals that once were renowned in Iraq and neighboring countries for the advanced medical care they provided now lack the basic necessities and medication to heal and cure. Only those desperate masses that cannot afford anything else are treated with minimal equipment, drugs and expertise, in what are now but empty shells.

The sanctions imposed on Iraq prevents it from selling its resources and oil, and thus from meeting its essential needs with the proceeds of its oil sales. The relatively small revenue generated as a result of the UN oil-for-food program (USD 5.6 billion every six months) is not spent as it should owing to the amount of red tape required by the United Nations and poor management by Iraq. Ultimately, sanctions that were designed to weaken Iraq's leadership are now hurting those they were meant to protect.

Today, close to 5,000 children every month die from a variety of resultant illnesses (according to a recent report by UNICEF), and a large number of Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition and congenital abnormalities.

Andrea Motta

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