Sunday, October 16, 2005

US Forces Starving Iraqi Civilians: UN

US Forces Starving Iraqi Civilians: UN
Ziegler, a former Swiss sociology professor, lashed out at the American practice as "a flagrant violation of international law".
BAGHDAD, October 15, 2005 ( & News Agencies) – The UN special rapporteur on the right to food has accused the US-led occupation forces of starving Iraqis civilians in besieged cities and depriving them of water to force them.
"A drama is taking place in total silence in Iraq, where the coalition's occupying forces are using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population," Jean Ziegler told a press conference Friday, October 14, reported Reuters.
He stressed that Iraqi and US-led forces cut off or restricted food and water to force residents in Fallujah, Tal Afar and Samarra to flee before onslaughts allegedly targeting entrenched resistance fighters.
The Iraqi army announced Thursday, September 22, the end of the "successful" Tal Afar offensive, which involved 6,000 Iraqi soldiers, backed by 4,000 US troops and claimed the lives of 157 "rebels".
US air strikes and bombardment have sent residents into panicky flight from the city, ending up in a refugee camp on the city’s peripheries where they faced serious shortages of clean water, food and medicine.
Resistance hub Fallujah was the scene of one of the bloodiest US raids in November 2004 with at least 700 people killed, including children and women, and thousands injured.
Amnesty International has harshly criticized the US for killing dozens of civilians in a number of deadly consecutive air strikes into the war-battered city.
Ziegler, a former Swiss sociology professor, lashed out at the American practice as "a flagrant violation of international law".
He underlined that the Geneva Conventions on warfare, which form the basis of international humanitarian law, not only forbid starving civilians, but actually make the occupying force responsible to provide it.
Two 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which lay down rules of conduct in armed conflicts, ban using deprivation of food or water as a weapon of war.
They also prohibit destruction of food stocks or interruption of food supply lines.
Ziegler said that he had been in touch with British authorities on the issue, and "a channel seems to be opening", but that attempts to start a dialogue with US authorities had been fruitless.
He would present a report on 27 October at the UN General Assembly in New York expressing his personal "outrage" at the practice and calling on countries to "condemn this strategy" in a resolution.
The UN official presents an oral report each autumn at the UN General Assembly and a written report each spring at the 53-nation UN Human Rights Commission.
The UN official said Iraqi and US-led forces cut off or restrict food and water to force residents in besieged towns to leave.
A US military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt-Col Steve Boylan, dismissed the criticism as inaccurate.
"Any accusations of coalition forces refusing basic needs from the citizens of Iraq are completely false," he said.
Boylan maintained that they "take all precautions to ensure that the Iraqi people are taken care of".
"There have in the past ... been some supplies that have been delayed due to combat operations, but they were due to transit the area once it was deemed safe. It does not do relief supplies any good if you have them going into a firefight."
Yet, Ziegler insisted that civilians who could not leave besieged cities and towns for whatever reason should not suffer as a result of this strategy.
In a report to the UN Human Rights Commission in September, Ziegler concluded that twice as many children are malnourished in Iraq now as there were when the US invaded Iraq in March 2003.
"Malnutrition rates in children under five have almost doubled since the US-led intervention - to nearly 8 percent by the end of 2004," the report said.


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