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Volume 597: debated on Wednesday 10 February 1999

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Why they do not believe the reports of infant ill-health and mortality in Iraq made by Mr. Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations; whether they agree with Mr. Scott Ritter that a "Marshall Plan" for Iraq holds the best chance for a change of government in that country; and, if not, how long they propose supporting the present sanctions regime. [HL786]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

Mr. Halliday has never provided full details of the source of the data, the statistical methods used in their collation, and how the data have been interpreted.However, we note from the latest report by the UN Secretary General on the implementation of the UN "oil for food" programme that it is now bringing real benefit to the Iraqi people. Since the programme began in December 1996, $2.5 billion-worth of foodstuffs has arrived in Iraq; $440 million-worth of medicines have been delivered to Iraq, leading to marked improvement in availability of medicines; there has been a 33 per cent. increase in the number of surgical operations; and there is greater availability of drugs, which has led to an increase in patient attendance at health facilities.We also note from the same report that infant malnutrition has stabilised in Baghdad-controlled Iraq and has decreased in the northern governorates.